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Poulin, Gabrielle.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1984. 206pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-561-9 (cloth) $27.95, 0-88750-562-7 (paper) $14.95.

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by donalee Moulton- Barrett

Volume 13 Number 4
1985 July

The first thing you must accept about Sister Anna, the main character in Gabrielle Poulin's novel All the Way Home, is her faith.

For most of her life Sister Anna has been a nun; for all of her life she has believed deeply and unequivocally in God. That is not what is at issue here, but rather the role of the Church and the lives (or lack of them) that women, particularly nuns, are forced to lead.

Poulin paints a clear picture of Sisterhood as rigid, removed, alienating, and unnatural. Sister Anna's decision to leave the convent is the same decision many Quebecois have made. God will be a part of life; the church, however, will not rule that life.

Sister Anna is a well-developed, complex, compassionate character. Poulin describes her life by following her through the day-to-day routine of a convent (and the various rites of passage), by following her back to her happy past, and by following her inside herself to her dreams. The last two methods become tiresome at times. The first does not, primarily because it is the most believable.

The other characters in All the Way Home are less three dimensional than Sister Anna, although with the exception of the mother, also called Anna, this lack of depth does not seriously affect the novel. Anna, however, is a stereotypical image of the elderly Catholic woman living in small town Quebec and her relationship with her daughter never crystallizes.

Despite these minor flaws, All the Way Home is a solid piece of work from a fine writer.

donalee Moulton- Barrett, Halifax, N.S.
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