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Webb, Paddy.

Dunvegan (Ont.), Quadrant Editions, c1984. 234pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-86495-044-6. (Women & Writing #2) CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Marion Mintis

Volume 14 Number 3
1986 May

In this very literate novel, the reader follows the nervous breakdown of Harriet Rawlins, a former teacher and aspiring novelist. Because Harriet is using her fictional characters to exorcise her very real demons, she becomes too involved with them and she eventually loses her grip on reality as they take over her life. The reader is expected to believe that the acceptance of her novel for publication, the death of her spiritual mentor and friend, and the loyalty of her lover combine to bring Harriet back from the brink of madness, as modern medicine was unable to do.

The book is full of humour, classical allusions, and descriptions of Montreal and the Eastern Township area of Quebec, but the most interesting place Paddy Webb takes us is into the subconscious world of Harriet, where she tries to deal with her guilt over her husband and children's deaths, her ambivalent sexual desires, and her self-destructive tendencies. The novel moves slowly at first and the opening chapter can only be appreciated after one is halfway through the book, but, as a whole, it is a powerful and engrossing story and one that most women will find relevant and timely.

Marion Mintis, Bonar Law Memorial School, Rexton, N.B.
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