Frances Rain?

Photo by Margaret Buffie
Early sunrise

Who is Frances Rain? was my first published novel. It has had many different covers, and I hope to post them someday. But the one above is the most recent - and was made for the 20th anniversary of the publication of this novel.

Who is Frances Rain? is now available as an e-Book on many e-book sites. To connect to Kindle and Kobo to order this book or browse, please click on the My E-BOOKS tab on this site. The links beside each book will take you right there!

The cover that is familiar to most people is:

Kids Can Press, Toronto, New York, 2006
ISBN (paperback) 0-919964-83-4
ISBN (USA hardcover)0-590-42834-9
ISBN (USA paperback) 0-590-42835-7

The story takes place on a lake in Northwestern Manitoba.

Photo by Margaret Buffie
The edge of our island

Photo by Margaret Buffie
A log cabin I know well.....


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 up north, 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 neighbour, Alex, she puts together clues about the ghosts' identities and in doing so, finds a way to help her estranged family reunite.

Winner of the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Canadian Book Award,

First runner up in the Canadian Library Association Book if the Year Award

Nominated Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award

American Library Assoc Best Books of the Year Honour Book

Notable Canadian Young Adult Fiction Book

A few short excerpts from reviews for WHO IS FRANCES RAIN?

REVIEW: Who is Frances Rain? is a thoroughly absorbing young adult novel filled with characters who are bound to intrigue teenagers. It’s full of the resonance of Canadian summer, the mystique of forest and water, and is sure to linger in the reader’s mind long after the last page is turned. Children’s Book News

REVIEW: Who is Frances Rain? is as distinctly Canadian as the intoxicating lure of silent woods and wind-whipped lakes. The textures of the narrative and the well-rounded characters are just as haunting as the ghosts Lizzie finds on Rain Island. It’s a ghost story with much to reveal to the thoughtful reader about the turbulent emotions at work within families. It’s a novel that makes us grateful for a strong new voice in Canadian literature for young people, a voice we’ll want to hear again soon. Quill and Quire

REVIEW: Who is Frances Rain? will probably be devoured by its young adult readers in one sitting. It deserves to be; this is an excellent book. Toronto Star

REVIEW: Buffie’s story is moody and atmospheric – the lake and the island are pungently, perfectly evoked. Lizzie’s encounters with ghosts are beautifully handled, with just the right balance of eerie and emotional moments. Publishers Weekly

REVIEW: Superb tension, suspense, and mystery. Horn Book

REVIEW: In Who is Frances Rain? , Lizzie’s confident ironies work well to establish suspension and disbelief. In terms of telling (a story) Frances Rain wins hands down the transparency of the ghosts is made doubly poignant by the fact that although Lizzie can see them both, they are unaware of each other Lizzie’s chatty engaging style establishes an immediate rapport with the reader. London Times Educational Supplement

Photo by Margaret Buffie

This is kind of misty morning in which Lizzie paddles in her canoe 
toward the island.


I found your book (Who is Frances Rain) VERY interesting, and I especially liked how you used personification, metaphors and similes to make your book seem to come alive. My favorite character in your book was Lizzie, because you made her seem like a real-life person, and the problems that she faced with her family are real problems that could and probably have happened!...thank you for writing such a wonderful book, for kids of all ages to read. A grade 7 student from Newfoundland

I am nineteen years old. I can remember the day (I received) the book "Who is Frances Rain". I was slow at first to get into it, but once I started to read, I read the whole thing in two days, never putting it down. It has turned out to be one of those books you read over and over and you can skip a chapter because you've read it so many times you know every page by heart. ...I have every novel she has ever written and read most of them at least twice, minimal. I have gotten my younger sisters equally hooked on Ms. Buffie's writing and spread the word shamelessly that I'd rather re-read any of these books than any new fancy novels my peers get excited over ... At nineteen, I still place this author at the very top of my amazing people list. A reader from Brandon Manitoba

My absolutely favourite book is "Who is Frances Rain?" ...I read it over and over again. It was that good!! I really liked the developing suspence and how you led the characters from event to event. Lizzie seems like an incredibly strong person. How she coped with the betrayal of her father, and the "overly friendliness" of Tim, her new stepfather.I think it would be cool if you made a sequel to "Who is Frances Rain". It would be great to see what happens to Lizzie when she goes home. Or maybe the story could take place a year later, and they're back visiting Gran! That would be really cool! From a student who lives in Mississauga Ontario.

...we are reading your novel "Who is Frances Rain? for a novel study. I never thought it would be that interesting, but once I got reading it, I didn't want to put it down.The story is so wonderful and full of mystery, suspense and sadness.It is wonderful how your story unfolds and answers the quesitons that you are dying to have answered. "Who is Frances Rain" expresses many feelings that any person in today's life would feel. The part in your story that made me cry was when Tim left and when May told Elizabeth and Connie that Gran had Angina Pectoris. I love Erica. She loved Tim so much and she had so many feelings and she knows how to let her feelings out, let others know how she was feeling, and how she felt about Tim, and I felt so much like Lizzie when you introduced Tim into the story. I thought he wasn't a nice guy and tried to butt into everything, but as I read your book, I realized that Tim cared more about Connie, Erica, Lizzie, Evan and Gran more than he cared about himself! I am looking forward to reading all of your novels! A grade seven student from  Mississauga, Ontario

We just wanted to tell you that we LOVED your book Who Is Frances Rain? It was very thrilling, and we couldn't put it down. It was so good that we decided to do a project on it for our Language Arts Fair that we have in our school every year. Thank you for writing such a excellent book and we look forward to reading more of your books in the future! Your Dedicated Readers! Nicole and Krystal

I read Who is Frances Rain? sometime between 1991 and 1992, it now being the year 2006, I absolutely could not believe how much I remembered! And how much that one book seems to have lingered in my brain all these years. It took me roughly 2-3 days to read it at the time, I could not put it down. I can remember being so absorbed in the story I couldn't even hear my mother calling me for supper one night. It's a wonderful book, honestly one of my all time favourites. I was just recommending that my neighbour's 9 year old daughter read it, which is what brought me to your site. I thought that it would be nice for me to be able to tell you that your book has made such a lasting impression on me! Nearly 15 years is a long time to still be raving about this great book I read in grade 5! Thank you so much for sharing that story. Sincerely, Pam M.

My name is Charlotte. I am from Glovertown, NL. My grade 7 english class is doing a novel study on your book Who Is Francis Rain? I am loving your book, it is totally awesome. Me and my friends are always upset when class is over and can't wait for english class to start again.I was shocked (in a good way) when I found out (the name of Frances Rain's child) Note: I changed this last comment a bit, in case it told the secret too soon for other readers!) Lizzie is my favorite character. I am going to read another one of your books when this one is finished. Thanks for the great read, Sincerely, Charlotte Gardiner, 2009

My name is Danica Oram and I am from Glovertown Academy. My class just finished reading your novel Who is Francis Rain? I loved it. You also got an e-mail from my Best Friend Charlotte Gardiner. I was wondering if you got any other books coming out because I would love to read them. Also what books do you already have out? I love how this story is a mystery. I also like how Lizzie and Alex fall in love. It would make a wicked movie. Danica Oram, Glovertown Academy 2009

Hello Ms. Buffie,

Once again, I've read and explored your novel, Who is Frances Rain? and
once again I've uncovered yet another layer I did not know existed ...

I've taught your novel to my grade sevens for over ten years now and I
never tire of it. Sometimes I read it aloud - while they follow along
with their copy - and sometimes I get the students to read it. I've
always felt that the plot was perfect for this age group and more
importantly the many themes of change, acceptance, and growing up, to
mention just a few... For that reason alone, it deserves a hallowed place
in my classroom.

Each time I've read the book I've been intrigued by its many teaching
possibilities. Early in our use of the book, it was always a great
springboard for important discussions about divorce, sibling rivalry and
the beauty and importance of grandparents. I also use it for exploring
journal writing and point of view. Sometimes students will journal write
about things going on in their world and sometimes write from Lizzie's
point of view at critical points in the novel.

As I read the novel aloud, I often pause to celebrate how real all of your
characters are, including your minor ones. I take the time to let the
kids enjoy your description of Harvey, which is so so colorful. And then
when Lizzie and Alex go to pick him up at his shack, the description of it
is so appropriate and really a description of him, which is really the
case in the real world. We actually take the time to create a visual
representation of it.

One day, as I was reading, all of the figurative language suddenly
appeared to me. I don't know why it took so long, but it did. It made me
rethink my way of teaching. This may seem like a trivial point at first,
but I used to teach my literary terms / devices by genre and figurative
language was included in my poetry terms. And then I thought... How
limiting, to call similes, metaphors, and personification poetry terms.
It was indirectly telling my students that these terms only have a place
in poems.

Thanks to you, I now explore these terms with my students as literary
terms and encourage my students to use figurative language in all forms of

Your first novel? Wow! Who is Frances Rain? is the work of a true master
From a grade 7 teacher, Christopher --- from Newfoundland

Note from MB: I just love this email from Christopher who clearly has a passion for teaching, and happily for me, has included Who is Frances Rain? in that passion. I would like to start a section on what teachers are doing in the classroom. If you are a teacher and are using one of my books in your class, and have some activities the students like -- and would like to pass them on to other teachers, please email me at!

Dear Mrs. Buffie
I'm in grade seven. My English teacher is reading us your book titled "Who is Frances Rain". I am so absolutely in love with it, I get overly excited when it is time to go to English because we are reading your book! So far we are at the part where Alex and Lizzy kiss (THREE TIMES) and hold hands down the dock. When he stopped I felt like crying because I needed to find out what happens next. So I went up to my teachers and asked if there was a movie about it and he said no there is not. So that gave me the idea to send this message to you and ask if you will ever come out with a movie. If you are that is amazing because everybody in my class would love to see it. But if you are not that is completely your choice. So please e-mail me back when you get the chance that would mean the world to me.

 P.S.  In my opinion you are the best author there is because of all the amazing metaphors and similes you use in your book!  A grade seven student from Newfoundland 2015

Hello! My name is Hailey! I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your book "Who is Frances Rain?" I think that book you have written is absolutely amazing! I am hoping to borrow"Angels turn their backs" from a friend, and I am so excited to read it! I have never been more excited about reading a book. I love your work and I can't wait to read more of it!

Thank you
-Hailey  March 2015


I cannot thank you all enough for your wonderful emails and letters. Your  encouragement and kind words about my work help keep me going!!! 


Anonymous said...

Over a long career in publishing, an editor and publisher reads many dozens, make that thousands, of manuscripts. If the publisher accepts unsolicited manuscripts, that figure can be tens of thousands. When only one in a thousand might be published, it's fair to ask why a publisher would spend so much time reading things that won't see the light of day. WHO IS FRANCES RAIN? is the answer. Publishers are a hopeful lot; we believe that there will be a book in that "slush pile" that will make it all worthwhile. And there is. You just have to find it. The quality of the writing, the uniqueness of the story, keep you reading beyond the first ten pages. Ten pages of manuscript turn into fifty and then one hundred, and you know you have in your hands a manuscript you must publish. I think the comments of readers mean almost as much to me as they do to Margaret, all these years later. This is a book that has, and will continue, to stand the test of time. Brava, Margaret, and thank you from your first publisher. (who doesn't know how to set up an identifying account!)

Margaret Buffie said...

How lovely this is, my friend and former colleague. I am so happy you feel this way. It means so much. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

You are an awesome writer! I love "Who is Frances Rain?" It was such an interesting book! I couldn't put it down! My favorite part was when Lizzie was under the covers and Frances and the little girl were there. I got a shock when I found out who the little girl really was! Keep writing great books! You are awesome!

Margaret Buffie said...

Thank you for your wonderful comments! I'm glad it was a surprise for you!

Lisa Maj said...

My grade seven class is reading your book now. For me it is the 10th time I have read it with a class. I love it and I think the students are loving it too.

Margaret Buffie said...

Hi Lisa. I am so happy to hear this! I will get back to you soon on your attachment and other email. Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

Hi !
We are reading this in English class for literature circles, and it's going great so far !

Margaret Buffie said...

Yay! Glad it's going well! Thanks for your comment!