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Margaret Laurence.
Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1989.
197pp., paper, $4.95.
ISBN 0-7710-9985-1. New Canadian Library series. CIP.

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up

Reviewed by Joanne K.A. Peters.

Volume 17 Number 3
1989 May

The fourth work in the five books that comprise the Manawaka cycle of Laurence's fiction, A Bird in the House is more than a collection of eight short stories depicting the world of its protagonist, Vanessa MacLeod. Although it is not a novel in the usual sense, the interconnectedness of the stories, both in character and event, gives the work the cohesiveness of that genre.

A comfortably established member of Manawaka's WASP community, Vanessa learns about the life of those cast out from that world, both through her father's well-intentioned attempt to provide a rest-cure for the tubercular Piquette Tonnerre at the family's summer cottage in "The Loons" and from the tortures that Harvey Shinwell inflicts on her dog in "The Half-Husky." A participant in all of the stories, Vanessa is also an active observer, who learns to see and hear as a writer must.

A Bird in the House is, as Isabel Huggan (author of The Elizabeth Stories ¹) points out in the afterword, "a portrait of the artist as a young girl, the child in the process of becoming a writer," but the collection can be enjoyed by a variety of readers, with older adolescent girls finding it particularly appealing. The clear typeface and full-colour cover art give this reissued version tremendous visual appeal, and its price makes it a most affordable addition to the library or the classroom.

Joanne K.A. Peters, Sisler High School, Winnipeg, MB.

¹ Reviewed vol. XII/5 September 1984, p. 191.

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