History, and our interpretation of it, is constantly changing. In For Elise, the established story of a pioneering family’s battle to survive has been reviewed from the perspective of a rarely considered woman. Previously, the diaries of Percy Criddle had to be taken at face value. Now, using those self-same diaries written by her great-grandfather, plus a variety of other contemporary sources, Oriole has given us the tale from the point of view of Elise, her neglected great-grandmother, who contributed so much to the success of the family’s venture. The resulting portrayal of the hardships endured by the Criddle/Vane family explains so many previously unanswered questions, and indicates the basis on which their eventual success was founded.
This book is quite breathtaking in the way it has turned ‘established beliefs’ around. There is much to learn about nineteenth century Canada along the way. I was gripped from beginning to end.
—Laraine Hake, Hon. Secretary, Alabaster Society. www.alabaster.org.uk
This book is full of wonder – I was not before familiar with the historical narrative form, but found it a masterful way to portray the experiences of homesteaders at the turn of the century. My own ancestors settled in Canada and then in Manitoba and Saskatchewan about the time that Elise’s did. Reading Elise’s story made vivid the many stories told to me by my grandparents. The manner and style that Oriole Vane Veldhuis choose to tell Elise’ story made the history of the time come alive. And it made the story of the abuse she suffered, along with her children shockingly real.
I will remember her story forever.
—Bill Martin, Gimli, Manitoba
Genealogists research family history to discover our own stories, intending to tell these tales, with a hope to interest and inspire other generations. This book excels in all aspects. For Elise: Unveiling the Forgotten Woman on the Criddle Homestead is a triumph, and a tribute to two extraordinary women—Elise Harrer Vane, the protagonist, and Oriole Vane Veldhuis, her great-granddaughter and biographer. Oriole has transformed hundreds of letters, journal entries, and official documents into a remarkable story that is a joy to read in this novelized biography.
Recommended for those interested in family; in the settlement of Manitoba; in women’s history; and for those who just enjoy a really good story.
—K. Southworth, Manitoba Genealogical Society
Oriole Vane Veldhuis in her book “For Elise” has written a heart-wrenching account of her great- grandmother Elise’s life on the Criddle homestead in Manitoba in the late nineteenth century. Elise and her children are workhorses in these early years of pioneering and contribute immensely to the success of the homestead. This is a story of betrayal, determination, patience and forbearance of an extremely talented woman. The well-kept family secret and the relationships of the Vanes and the Criddles come to light in this most creative and fascinating story. Elise is finally given a voice by her great- granddaughter.
—Beverley Ramcharan, Brandon, MB