By Margaret Laurence
One of Canada’s most accomplished authors combines the best qualities of both the short story and the novel to create a lyrical evocation of the beauty, pain, and wonder of growing up.
In eight interconnected, finely wrought stories, Margaret Laurence recreates the world of Vanessa MacLeod – a world of scrub-oak, willow, and chokecherry bushes; of family love and conflict; and of a girl’s growing awareness of and passage into womanhood. The stories blend into one masterly and moving whole: poignant, compassionate, and profound in emotional impact.
In this fourth book of the five-volume Manawaka series, Vanessa MacLeod takes her rightful place alongside the other unforgettable heroines of Manawaka: Hagar Shipley in The Stone Angel, Rachel Cameron in A Jest of God, Stacey MacAindra in The Fire-Dwellers, and Morag Gunn in The Diviners.
This novel can be identified as a classic and it is for this reason that I read the novel. This being said I did not particularly enjoy the stories. I am not a fan in general of short stories, though Margaret Laurence’s style of writing these short stories was by far the best I had ever read. I loved the characters and the fact that the reader witnessed the development of Vanessa’s character, from childhood to adulthood. There were many interesting themes found throughout the novel such as order, entrapment, family, death, etc. Each of these themes were illustrated through different characters lives and thoughts. I also liked how new characters were brought into the short stories and it was not just reoccurring characters in each chapter, nevertheless Vanessa’s family were the principal characters in the majority of the stories.
It was interesting to read about Vanessa’s thought process, as for the majority of the novel she was a young girl. As the reader you could blatantly see that there were many situations where Vanessa simply did not comprehend what was taking place. It was interesting to see her reactions to these situations and what she did understand or did not understand. I would recommend this novel, as it is a great example of excellently written short stories, though myself not being a big fan of short stories it is not a novel I would reread but it’s a classic so read it!