‘The Massey Murder’ Dufferin’s One Book One County for 2015

February 18, 2015   ·   0 Comments

At last Thursday’s County Council meeting, Nancy Frater and members of the team behind the One Book One County Dufferin reading program revealed that Charlotte Gray’s “The Massey Murder” has been selected as the 2015 winner.

“We’re very excited to be here tonight,” said Ms. Frater, owner of BookLore. “It has been said that a room without books is like a body without a soul. That’s why BookLore joined with the Orangeville Library to start this, and why the Shelburne and Grand Valley helped us to create Dufferin Reads One Book One County.”

The program provides an opportunity for readers across the county to participate in one large, interactive book club, where they can share in the same book, have discussions, and get together to enjoy their story together.

“In the past we’ve explored historical fiction, mystery and science fiction, but this year we are turning our sights towards non-fiction,” said Ms. Frater. “This year’s story, you might say, is a mystery in history. The time, exactly 100 years ago last Sunday (Feb. 8); the crime, a murder of one of the members of most influential and powerful families in Canada, set in Toronto. This supposedly heinous crime sat in backdrop of World War One. This is a non-fiction book that reads as a novel.”

The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Country, by Canadian author Charlotte Gray, was published in 2013 and won the Toronto Book Award, the Heritage Toronto Book Award, and the Canadian Authors Association Lela Common Award for Canadian History.

Ms. Gray has written nine acclaimed literary non-fiction books, and is identified as one of Canada’s best-known writers.

Along with the big reveal, the coordinators of the gigantic book club had a special surprise for members of County Council to help encourage their support of both the program and reading in general.

“We understand that Council is very busy with budget deliberations and living among a lot of stress and angst, so we want to provide something to take away that stress and angst from your lives,” said Ms. Frater. “We would like to present a copy of The Massey Murder and publicity kit to each of you. You are the face of our county. We hope that you will champion this book, champion reading, and champion literacy.”

This year, they are asking all participants to take a ‘selfie’ of themselves with their books and post it online on Facebook. It was kicked off with a photo of County Warden Warren Maycock posing with his copy of the book for a photo.

“Mark Twain once said that ‘a man who does not read has no advantage over a man who cannot read’,” said Ms. Frater. “We hope you will all enjoy this year’s offering from One Book One County Dufferin.”

The Grand Finale of One Book One County, which will feature an appearance by the author, will take place on May 3rd at Grace Tipling Hall in Shelburne.

Tickets are $10 each and will be available for purchase at the Orangeville, Shelburne and Grand Valley Public Libraries, as well as at BookLore.

The Massey Murder centres on a violent crime and a sex scandal involving a prominent family and an obscure British maid.

Bert Massey was the grandson of the pioneering industrialist Hart Massey, whose name was on millions of pieces of agricultural equipment and Toronto’s largest factory. The accused 18-year-old maid claimed self-defence although there was no imminent danger. What would the Toronto and Canada of 1915 think of such a case?

A theatrical defence at the murder trial had the country, and beyond, enthralled. The author provides some insight into the attitudes toward class and gender at that time in our history.

The author of nine acclaimed books of literary non-fiction, Charlotte Gray is one of Canada’s best-known writers. Born in Sheffield, England, and educated at Oxford University and the London School of Economics, she began her writing career in England as a magazine editor and newspaper columnist. After coming to Canada in 1979, she worked as a political commentator, book reviewer and magazine columnist before she turned to biography and popular history.

An adaptation of her 2010 bestseller “Gold Diggers, Striking It Rich in the Klondike” was broadcast as a television miniseries in early 2014 on the Discovery Channel, under the title “Klondike”. Her 2006 bestseller, “Reluctant Genius: The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell”, won the Donald Creighton Award for Ontario History and the City of Ottawa Book Award. It was also nominated for the Nereus Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize, the National Business Book Award, and the Trillium Award. Her previous five books — “Sisters in the Wilderness”, “The Lives of Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill”, “Flint & Feather”, “The Life and Times of E. Pauline Johnson” and “A Museum Called Canada” — were all award-winning bestsellers.

A resident of Ottawa, Ms. Gray appears regularly on radio and television as a political and cultural commentator. She has been a judge for several of Canada’s most prestigious literary prizes. In 2014, she was short-listed as “Author of the Year” by the Canadian Booksellers Association. She is a member of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

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