A Bird in the House: Stories
Margaret Laurence University of Chicago Press, 1993 Library of Congress PR9199.3.L33B57 1993 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
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 House achieves 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 Mockingbird has there been a novel like this. It should not be missed by anyone who has a child or was a child."—Pittsburgh Post-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 for The Diviners.
Margaret Laurence University of Chicago Press, 1993 Library of Congress PR9199.3.L33D58 1993 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
In The Diviners, Morag Gunn, a middle aged writer who lives in a farmhouse on the Canadian prairie, struggles to understand the loneliness of her eighteen-year-old daughter. With unusual wit and depth, Morag recognizes that she needs solitude and work as much as she needs the love of her family. With an afterword by Margaret Atwood.
"Mrs. Laurence's [novel] is both poetic and muscular, and her heroine is certainly one of the more humane, unglorified, unpolemical, believable women to have appeared in recent fiction."—The New Yorker
Margaret Laurence University of Chicago Press, 1993 Library of Congress PR9199.3.L33F57 1993 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
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
The books of Margaret Laurence and Gabrielle Roy are among the most beloved in Canadian literature. In 1976, when both were at the height of their careers, they began a seven-year written correspondence. Laurence had just published her widely acclaimed The Diviners, for which she won her second Governor-General’s Award, and Roy had returned to the centre of the literary stage with a series of books that many critics now consider her richest and most mature works. Although both women had been born and raised in Manitoba — Laurence in Neepawa and Roy in St. Boniface — they met only once, in 1978 at a conference in Calgary. As these letters reveal, their prairie background created a common understanding of place and culture that bridged the differences of age and language. Here Laurence and Roy discuss everything from their own and each other’s writing, to Canadian politics, housekeeping, publishing, and their love of nature. With a thoughtful introduction by Paul G. Socken, these lovely and intimate letters record the moving, affectionate friendship between two remarkable women.
A Jest of God
Margaret Laurence University of Chicago Press, 1993 Library of Congress PR9199.3.L33J4 1993 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
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.
"Mrs. Laurence tells [her story] unsparingly, with absolute authority, using her thorough understanding of Rachel to draw us into her anguish. We know Rachel, sympathize with her, and in a sense, become Rachel, so authentic is her voice. . . . A Jest of God has extraordinary clarity, beautiful detail, as well as the emotional impact of honest confession."—Joan J. Hall, Saturday Review
"Laurence's rendition is close to faultless . . . reaffirming her ability to draw, without pathos, life-sized women. . . . Skillfully wrought and eloquently told."—Marilyn Gardner, Christian Science Monitor
One of Canada's most accomplished writers, Margaret Laurence(1926-1987) was the recipient of many awards, including the prestigious Governer General's Litarary Award for The Diviners and A Jest of God.
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 Stone Angel
Margaret Laurence University of Chicago Press, 1993 Library of Congress PR9199.3.L33S7 1993 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
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
This Side Jordan: A Novel
Margaret Laurence University of Chicago Press, 2011 Library of Congress PR9199.3.L33T48 2011 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
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