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A Bird in the House is a series of eight interconnected short stories narrated by Vanessa MacLeod as she matures from a child at age ten into a young woman at age twenty. Wise for her years, Vanessa reveals much about the adult world in which she lives. "Vanessa rebels against the dominance of age; she watches [her grandfather] imitate her aunt Edna; and her rage at times is such that she would gladly kick him. It takes great skill to keep this story within the expanding horizon of this young girl and yet make it so revealing of the adult world. "--Atlantic "A Bird in the Houseachieves the breadth of scope which we usually associate with the novel (and thereby is as psychologically valid as a good novel), and at the same time uses the techniques of the short story form to reveal the different aspects of the young Vanessa. " --Kent Thompson,The Fiddlehead "I am haunted by the women in Laurence's novels as if they really were alive--and not as women I've known, but as women I've been. "--Joan Larkin,Ms. Magazine "Not since . . . To Kill a Mockingbirdhas there been a novel like this. It should not be missed by anyone who has a child or was a child. "--PittsburghPost-Gazette One of Canada's most accomplished writers, Margaret Laurence (1926-87) was the recipient of many awards including Canada's prestigious Governor General's Literary Award on two separate occasions, once forThe Diviners.
Though Morag Gun leaves the prairie town of Manawaka as a young woman, she cannot escape its hold upon her life. She flashes back to her childhood as an orphan raised by Christie Logan, the town scavenger, a figure of ridicule in Manawaka's polite society. She carries her love for the Metis songwriter, Jules Tonnerre, the father of her child. And the stories of Gaelic and Metis history are woven through her life and the life of her daughter. This is a rich, multilayered novel about plumbing the past the way the diviners search for hidden springs.
Convinced that life has more to offer than the tedious routine of her days, Stacey MacAindra yearns to recover some of the passion of her early romance. In this extraordinary novel, Margaret Laurence has given us yet another unforgettable heroine: smart, witty, but overwhelmed by the responsibilities of raising four children and trying to love her overworked husband. The Fire Dwellers helps us to rediscover all the richness of the commonplace, as well as the pain, beauty--and humor--of being alive. "Stacey's state of mind is revealed in a swift-flowing stream of dialogue, reaction, reproach, and nostalgia. . . . [Laurence] is the best fiction writer in the Dominion and one of the best in the hemisphere. "--Atlantic
One of Margaret Laurence's "Manawaka novels," this is the story of Stacey Cameron McAindra, now living in the city with her salesman husband and their four children. Stacey feels trapped by marriage and motherhood, and she lives in a welter of fantasies and possibilities of escape. Running through her days and nights are constant threats to the safety and well-being of her children, by accident, illness, or world calamity. The novel blends narrative with stream-of-consciousness to weave Stacey's outward existence and inner life into a seamless whole.
A thirty-four-year-old school teacher living with her mother, Rachel Cameron feels trapped in an environment of small-town deceit and pettiness--her own and that of others. She longs for contact with another human being who shares her rebellious spirit. Finally, by confronting both love and death, Rachel earns the freedom she desperately needs. Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award,A Jest of God was also the basis of the movie Rachel, Rachel.
In 1950, as a young bride, Margaret Laurence set out with her engineer husband to what was then Somaliland: a British protectorate in North Africa few Canadians had ever heard of. Her account of this voyage into the desert is full of wit and astonishment. Laurence honestly portrays the difficulty of colonial relationships and the frustration of trying to get along with Somalis who had no reason to trust outsiders. There are moments of surprise and discovery when Laurence exclaims at the beauty of a flock of birds only to discover that they are locusts, or offers medical help to impoverished neighbors only to be confronted with how little she can help them. During her stay, Laurence moves past misunderstanding the Somalis and comes to admire memorable individuals: a storyteller, a poet, a camel-herder. The Prophet's Camel Bell is both a fascinating account of Somali culture and British colonial characters, and a lyrical description of life in the desert. "The Prophet's Camel Bell has a timeless feeling about it that sets the work quite apart from the usual books of travel and adventure in distant and exotic parts. "--Canadian Literature
The film adaptation of Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel, starring acclaimed actresses Ellen Burstyn and Ellen Page, and introducing Christine Horne, opens in theatres May 9, 2008.This special fortieth-anniversary edition of Margaret Laurence's most celebrated novel will introduce readers again to one of the most memorable characters in Canadian fiction. Hagar Shipley is stubborn, querulous, self-reliant, and, at ninety, with her life nearly behind her, she makes a bold last step towards freedom and independence.As her story unfolds, we are drawn into her past. We meet Hagar as a young girl growing up in a black prairie town; as the wife of a virile but unsuccessful farmer with whom her marriage was stormy; as a mother who dominates her younger son; and, finally, as an old woman isolated by an uncompromising pride and by the stern virtues she has inherited from her pioneer ancestors.Vivid, evocative, moving, The Stone Angel celebrates the triumph of the spirit, and reveals Margaret Laurence at the height of her powers as a writer of extraordinary craft and profound insight into the workings of the human heart.From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Stone Angel, The Diviners, and A Bird in the House are three of the five books in Margaret Laurence's renowned "Manawaka series," named for the small Canadian prairie town in which they take place. Each of these books is narrated by a strong woman growing up in the town and struggling with physical and emotional isolation. In The Stone Angel, Hagar Shipley, age ninety, tells the story of her life, and in doing so tries to come to terms with how the very qualities which sustained her have deprived her of joy. Mingling past and present, she maintains pride in the face of senility, while recalling the life she led as a rebellious young bride, and later as a grieving mother. Laurence gives us in Hagar a woman who is funny, infuriating, and heartbreakingly poignant. "This is a revelation, not impersonation. The effect of such skilled use of language is to lead the reader towards the self-recognition that Hagar misses. "--Robertson Davies, New York Times "It is [Laurence's] admirable achievement to strike, with an equally sure touch, the peculiar note and the universal; she gives us a portrait of a remarkable character and at the same time the picture of old age itself, with the pain, the weariness, the terror, the impotent angers and physical mishaps, the realization that others are waiting and wishing for an end. "--Honor Tracy, The New Republic "Miss Laurence is the best fiction writer in the Dominion and one of the best in the hemisphere. "--Atlantic "[Laurence] demonstrates in The Stone Angel that she has a true novelist's gift for catching a character in mid-passion and life at full flood. . . . As [Hagar Shipley] daydreams and chatters and lurches through the novel, she traces one of the most convincing--and the most touching--portraits of an unregenerate sinner declining into senility since Sara Monday went to her reward in Joyce Cary's The Horse's Mouth. "--Time "Laurence's triumph is in her evocation of Hagar at ninety. . . . We sympathize with her in her resistance to being moved to a nursing home, in her preposterous flight, in her impatience in the hospital. Battered, depleted, suffering, she rages with her last breath against the dying of the light. The Stone Angel is a fine novel, admirably written and sustained by unfailing insight. "--Granville Hicks, Saturday Review "The Stone Angel is a good book because Mrs. Laurence avoids sentimentality and condescension; Hagar Shipley is still passionately involved in the puzzle of her own nature. . . . Laurence's imaginative tact is strikingly at work, for surely this is what it feels like to be old. "--Paul Pickrel, Harper's
Best known for her novels about the Canadian prairie, Margaret Laurence began her career writing about West Africa. Based on her experience living with her husband on the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in the years just before independence, This Side Jordan confronts issues of race relations, sexism, and colonial exploitation. This lyrical, vivid novel addresses all of the tensions of the time: the excitement, anticipation, and dread felt by both the Africans and the English as they confronted a new order. The book's hero, a school teacher torn between duty to his tribe and aspirations for his country's future in the modern world, names his son "Joshua" as a sign of hope that he will claim and enjoy his homeland. This Side Jordan anticipates many of the political and racial issues that were to plague Ghana over the next fifty years. Evocative and poignant, it is a subtle study of the effects of colonialism, culture clash, and the resilience of hope in new political identity. "Highly recommended as a good and timely read. "--Library Journal
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