The fish out of water or lonely orphan being sent to stay with strange relatives is a common trope of children’s literature. Here Denison gives it her own spin. Susannah is not an orphan, but is merely being sent to stay with a relative while her parents are posted elsewhere in the British empire of the 1890s. It must have been a common occurrence for the children of middle ranking administrators of the British empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In this case the relative with whom Susannah is sent to stay (with virtually no notice whatsoever) is a bachelor army officer posted in the wilds of Canada. She is not welcome.
However, despite a sad habit of disobeying the rules, Susannah soon wins the hearts of minds of those around her, including those of both her uncle and the fort commander. There is also a sub plot or romance between ‘Monty’ a young man Susannah meets on the train to Regina where he joins the Mounties, and Vicky the commander’s daughter. Since he’s only a trooper things don’t look too great for them, but in traditional style he turns out to be an aristocrat, so it’s OK.
Apparently the book was made into a film starring Shirley Temple, but the storyline seems to have been drastically if the synopsis is anything to go by.
I first read this when I was eight or nine, I think, and I enjoyed it then. I never realised Denison wrote a number of sequels. I would have enjoyed reading them also. While apparently no longer in print, Susannah is readily available second hand. My paternal grandfather did not approve of Susannah. I recall that he gave me a copy of Psmith in the City to wean me away from such rubbish. I won’t pretend it’s on a par with Wodehouse, but children should still find it entertaining.