Reader reviews

Readers have described Two Lives Crossing as “an epic story … addictive … incisive … rich … an enticing read … a parable of contemporary Canada … hard to put down … tremendous reading.”

Here’s what some of them said.

Bill MacLeanBeach Metro Community News, February 19, 2013

IN HIS DEBUT NOVEL, Robert MacBain has penned an epic story of a Canadian family whose lives encapsulate the story of this country in just about every aspect. Two Lives Crossing is one of those sprawling family sagas that begins in the early years of the 1900s in rural Scotland and ends in the modern metropolis of Toronto, spanning four generations, and crossing two very disparate cultures.

“And, although it was written well before the current Idle No More protests, it is as timely a book which deals with our First Nations people in the Canadian mosaic, more so than even Guy Vanderhaeghe’s recent A Good Man

“As Hollywood as it sounds, MacBain makes a credible case for his two protagonists and their dilemma….They embody so much of what it means to be a Canadian that Two Lives Crossing becomes a parable of contemporary Canada, its echoes resounding in today’s daily news events.”

British author Julia HamiltonOther People’s Rules, The Good Catholic, A Pillar of Society, Forbidden Fruits:

The whole book feels so rich because there are so many different strands, gradually being blended together, stirred with skill by the author. I’m getting student politics, Canadian history, a love story, a Shakespearean mix-up of birth brothers and a whole lot more besides. Bravo! …. The characters have got up off the page and are walking about the world as fully-fledged people that the reader can identify with and is interested in. A huge, huge achievement.

Michael MarzoliniChairman of POLLARA Strategic Insights:

It’s the first Canadian novel I found difficult to put down. A wealth of fascinating history and interesting detail surrounds this addictive story of newcomers to Canada and the life and adventures they find here. Robert MacBain is now my favourite Canadian author. He brings his characters to life and their new country as well.

Marion Ironquill-Meadmorefirst First Nations woman to practise law in western Canada:

“Reading this interesting book has replaced all the Olympic excitement and I am now in the middle. Can’t wait to see how all the threads come together. It was tremendous reading. My only comment is I had a hard time putting it down to do my work. There is so much research, knowledge, experience and imagination in this work.”

Bud Rileyformer Toronto radio newsman:

“I love the attention to the geographic and historical detail.”

Dipika SenB.A., B.T., New Delhi, India:

“Incisive writing …. You get a taste of Canadian politics, history and social intermingling of people from different backgrounds. A story of two brothers raised in two different environments. Very interesting reading.

Lynne Rachformer CTV Calgary news/public affairs producer:

“Robert MacBain weaves a believable tale that stretches from the moors of Scotland to the prairies and mountains of Alberta, Canada. For history buffs — an enticing read with well-researched facts woven throughout. In shaping his characters, MacBain builds on personal experience in Western Canada and a varied career in the Toronto area. As all good writers do, he writes insightfully from that personal experience.

“MacBain brings two cultures together in a not-all-that-unusual but unexplored scenario in the new world – a First Nations woman and European man unite in love. What is unusual is that the two brothers from this union each are raised in only one of the cultures. Given the serendipity which so often leads to stunning encounters, the brothers, who are poles apart in their thinking, are destined to meet. And, what a meeting that is!

Successful British author praises MacBain’s first novel

British author Julia Hamilton wrote Other People’s Rules, The Good Catholic, A Pillar of Society, and Forbidden Fruits. Here’s more of what she had to say about Two Lives Crossing.

I could almost hear the waves slapping against the side of the ship … This seems to me to be excellent pacing. So far it’s been fast and furious but thorough. Good technique at work here … This is terrific stuff.

“It’s all adding up to what is going to be a nice ‘big’ book, the kind publishers love … I’m enjoying reading it so much …. I like the way the backstory is being filtered through using dialogue and interiority. It’s a real pro job, a textbook example of how it should be done

“Bill is a wonderful character and it shows here with his insight into human relations. I’m rather in love with him myself, particularly when he talks about his parents’ marriage …. More excellent interiority here from Bill … I love the way Bill is such a rounded character and the humour he brings to the situation.

“Carol is determined to keep working in spite of her pregnancy – excellent! It’s all falling into place so nicely. Carol is really taking off as a character. I am so enjoying seeing inside her head.

“ … ‘but it’s time to get back to the source. Complete the circle.’ And this is how it is with the book – we’re now completing the circle in a very satisfactory and believable way.”


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Beach Books

Their Home and Native Land (463 pages),
Author: Robert MacBain
Reviewed by: Jon Muldoon, June 15, 2016

With the Truth and Reconciliation commission, international calls to clean up contaminated drinking water in Northern Ontario’s Grassy Narrows and a provincial focus on fighting suicide in remote First Nations communities, the timing has never been better to take a look at the current state of aboriginal affairs.

Enter Robert MacBain and his latest book, Their Home and Native Land. The book ranges back and forth through the troubled and troubling history of relations between settlers and First Nations, covering history from hundreds of years ago, through to the 1990s when former journalist MacBain, working variously in public relations and communications for government departments, found himself in several northern communities.

Much of Native Land is based on first-hand interviews with Ojibways, Cree and Mohawks living on remote reserves, many of whom share openly with MacBain their thoughts on the preservation of their traditional ways of life, despite the best (or worst?) efforts of past governments.

The changes in those traditions from the 1950s to present day are covered, with extensive commentary from people who lived through those changes. Some reserves have benefited, while others have suffered.

Throughout the book, MacBain adds context to the history and current state of affairs with the insight unique to a political insider. Anyone willing to read beyond the latest headlines, or who wants to add some context to them, will find Their Home and Native Land a compelling read.