When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke - REVIEW

When Calls the Heart (Canadian West #1) by Janette Oke

Publication Date: 1983

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers/Gale Cengage Learning

Genre: Historical Fiction



Nothing in her cultured East Coast upbringing prepared Elizabeth for a teaching position on the Canadian frontier. Yet, despite the constant hardships, she loves the children in her care. Determined to do the best job she can and fighting to survive the harsh land, Elizabeth is surprised to find her heart softening towards a certain member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.



This was a sweet, wholesome story about a woman growing up and moving forward in her life independently.

I thought that it was a short and quick read that was able to show the growth of Elizabeth’s character in the timeline of her first year teaching at a school in the middle of nowhere out West. I had gone into this thinking there would be more of a romance between herself and Wynn but that plot took a decided backseat to Elizabeth learning to rely on herself and to have a life away from the rest of her family.

I will say though, there were far too many pages about the mice that had invaded her home that I think could have been cut for more… interesting plot points.

There was a lovely community that we were introduced to as well but, in the grand scheme of things, got surprisingly little of. This is where I think I had a bit of trouble with this book. There was so much potential but it ending up being a bit lack-lustre. I wanted more from the story and from the characters and their relationships so overall it fell a bit flat.

This also sat a little awkwardly for me as well regarding the content around the current climate in Canada regarding Indigenous peoples and religion. It was very much written of the time but reading from a modern perspective, there were some things that left me feeling uncomfortable. Not that there was anything blatant, just things mentioned that I am now rather hyper-aware about even in passing within this book. If I had read this book just a few years ago, I can sadly admit these thoughts wouldn’t have crossed my mind.

All that being said, it was a generally light and wholesome story that left me a bit giddy. I wish there was more development between Elizabeth and Wynn to make the ending feel more earned, but it still got me lol.

I do eventually want to read more from this series but the synopsis of book 2 seems to be a very different setting and I have read some comments from readers that has me hesitating in terms of how certain aspects are written/handled. It may not be a book that I get to quickly and, if I do read it and find similar issues, I’m ok with not continuing further.

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