To Dance at the Palais Royale

HarperCollins Canada has released a new edition ofTo Dance at the Palais Royale.

In 1928, seventeen-year-old Agnes Maxwell leaves her home in Scotland to travel alone to Toronto.

Welcome to my pages for To Dance at the Palais Royale. This book is set in Toronto in the late 1920s, and is based very loosely on the lives of my mother's three oldest sisters, Barbara, Jean and Janet McIvor. My main character, Agnes Maxwell, is the seventeen-year-old daughter of a Scottish coal miner who comes to Toronto in 1928 to work as a domestic servant. This is what my aunts did as well, but Aggie has adventures my aunts would never have imagined.

Long before I wrote this book, I interviewed my aunts and my mother about coming to Canada in the 1920s, and about working as domestic servants. If you want to know what life was like for these young women, visit Aggie's World.

In To Dance at the Palais Royale, Aggie admires her rich friend Rose's fashionable clothes. The 1920s was a decade of high fashion and radical change. Here's a page about Fashions in the 1920s.

Toronto was a very different place in the 1920s. If you want to find out what the city was like, visit Toronto in the 1920s.

Life changed a great deal in the 1920s. Women wore shorter skirts, sleeveless dresses and makeup for the first time. Social life was more relaxed and freer than it had been, but people were still bound by rules that seem strange to us today. To learn about life in the 1920s, you can play The Roaring Twenties, the McCord Museum's wacky introduction to the lives of middle class anglophones living in Montreal at this time. You can play this interactive game with a friend and keep score. Play all four sections, and you'll find out how your life would have turned out. (This link will take you out of my website, but it's really worth a look.)

If you are a teacher, visit my Teachers' Resources Page. I've found some wonderful sources for research, games related to the time period, and educational links to inspire assignments. 

To read part of To Dance at the Palais Royale, visit this Excerpt Page.
Click on this link to learn about the song "She's like the Swallow."

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The wallpaper on this page was designed using graphics from Art Nouveau Patterns and Designs, R. Beauclair,
Bracken Books, London. Copyright 1988. Used with permission.