Jackie Muise’s Island Girl: From Orphan to Military Wife, a biography of Mary Elizabeth Whitty who was orphaned at an early age on PEI, will be available in July.
Island Girl tells the story Mary as she makes her way from orphan to farmer’s daughter, army wife to family matriarch. Despite living a life plagued with hardship and illness, Mary perseveres in a way that is familiar to many women of her generation.
Orphaned, Mary lives first with lightkeepers at Souris East Lighthouse, then with a St. Georges farming couple, Dolph and Jeannette Gallant, who become her beloved lifelong parents. With wartime, Mary is transplanted to Nova Scotia, where her father Dolph works in the Pictou shipyards and where she marries Pictou native Fred Leblanc, who becomes a soldier. Afflicted and critically ill with tuberculosis, Mary dwells at length and gives birth in the Kentville sanitorium. Prevailing, she devotes herself to the roles of a military wife and mother. During postings in Germany and New Brunswick, she copes with and finally confronts her husband’s alcoholism, while nurturing her children.
Muise is a freelance journalist and writer who lives and works in New Brunswick. She has written for health, feature and marketing magazines, and worked in editing and print for Brunswick News. She was nominated for the Best A&E Atlantic Journalism Award in 2014.