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Who is Frances Rain? by Margaret Buffie

Who is Frances Rain? (1987)

by Margaret Buffie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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The Haunting of Frances Rain is a story about troubled families. Our 15 1/2-year-old Canadian heroine, Elizabeth 'Lizzie' McGill, has always looked forward to spending summers with her beloved Gran, her mother's mother. The old cabin on the shores of Rain Lake has been her haven. Not this year -- instead of being put on a bus with her older brother, Evan, and her younger sister, Erica, their stepfather is driving the family to Gran's.

The McGill children suffer from having two self-centered parents, who are also both lawyers. Their father walked out two years ago. Three months ago, their mother married a bear of a man, a talented and successful potter with teeth the size of sugar cubes (Lizzie thinks of him as 'Toothy Tim'). I never had a stepparent, but I don't think my late mother was a good one to my older half-siblings. Tim is such a nice man I don't know what he sees in Connie. I wanted to drag her off to counseling for the appalling way she broke the news she was getting married again to her children (see chapter 2).

Carl McGill left not long before Erica started first grade, and she eats too much when there's tension in the family. She's chubby. Evan is obviously his mother's favorite. That's not just the way Lizzie sees it. Sure, Evan is brilliant -- he's skipped enough grades to be going to college already -- but he's an obnoxious jerk. Part of that is because their dad walked out. It doesn't help that he's four inches shorter than Lizzie, who already is only two inches shorter than their six-foot Gran. The only thing that unites these older siblings is being unpleasant to Tim. That's even though Lizzie has more of a life now that she no longer has to get dinner, do the housework, and mind Erica.

From my adult perspective, Tim is a godsend to his stepchildren: he cooks, cleans, and makes time for little Erica without giving up his pottery. Thanks to Carl and Connie, though, they might be losing Tim.

Lizzie decides to make uninhabited Rain Island her refuge from her family. There is where she finds the spectacles (glasses) that enable her to see the island's ghosts. One of them is the mysterious Frances Rain, a woman who died over sixty years ago. Lizzie is afraid to talk about her experiences, especially after the reaction Tim gets when he mentions what he saw to Lizzie, Evan, and local friend Alex Bird.

Lizzie becomes very interested in the lives of Frances and a girl who came to stay with her. They certainly get along much better than Lizzie's own family. It takes a couple of crises to get Lizzie focused on the present again. (When Lizzie finally uncovers the Rain Island secret, the ghost she's dubbed 'Toad Man' proves to have been much worse than even Carl or Connie! Society has changed enough that today's teens will have to infer from the text what made Toad Man so upset.)

It's a good ghost story, a good family story, and a nice mystery. ( )
  JalenV | Feb 21, 2015 |
I have loved this book since I was little...I have had it replaced a few times and recently have wanted to check it out and read it again, after losing my last copy. Sadly to say my local libraries lost the only copy left that was being transferred to a closer one that I had access to. I was also trying to find if a movie has ever been made, if not, I would recommend it. I think it would make a great movie!!!
  MinkPanther | Dec 21, 2012 |

Back in the days of Scholastic book fliers, I ordered this (gr. 5? gr. 6?). I've read it a few times since then, and it remains one of my favourite childhood books.

Elizabeth is going to her grandmother's cottage on Rain Lake, north of Winnipeg, for the summer, like she does every summer. Although this time, instead of it being just her, her little sister, and older brother, her mother and her mother's new husband have decided to come along. In an attempt to avoid the family strife, Elizabeth goes wandering, and she stumbles across a haunted island, of sorts, with a mystery to be solved.

It's a wonderful, short read, and while I can now see more clearly the gaps in the plot and the short-cuts sometimes taken by the author to meet certain conventions of the genre, it remains a magical, fantastical, and riveting story sure to impress and inspire kids. I highly recommend it.
  pixxiefish | Mar 17, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Buffieprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wahl, CharisEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0919964834, Paperback)

In this 20th-anniverary edition of the novel by Margaret Buffie, it's going to be a long, hot summer for 15-year-old Lizzie. Normally a vacation at her grandmother's northern Manitoba cottage is the highlight of the year, but this summer the whole family is going along, including her new stepfather whom she detests. To escape the family's bickering, Lizzie explores a nearby island, where she finds the remains of an old cabin and uncovers a pair of spectacles. When she tries on the old glasses she is surprised to find herself watching a woman and girl from the past. Lizzie is determined to find out who these ghosts are, and why they are appearing to her. Enlisting the help of her grandmother's teenage neighbor, Alex, she puts together clues about the ghosts' identities and in doing so, finds a way to help her estranged family reunite. It's a compelling story, carrying young readers from the present to the past and back again.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:04 -0400)

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Fifteen-year-old Lizzie digs up a pair of old glasses and finds out she can see ghosts from the past when she wears them.

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