CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Louise de Kiriline Lawrence

Toronto, Natural Heritage/Natural History Inc., 1989. 192pp, paper, $14.95, ISBN 0-920474-53-5
Distributed by Natural Heritage/Natural History Inc., P.O. Box 69, Station "H", Toronto, Ont. M4C 5H7. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Fred Leicester.

Volume 17 Number 4
1989 July

This marvellous collection of twenty-four short essays spans more than thirty years of close and accurate observations of the birds and animals of wild eastern Ontario. The author, an amateur naturalist of some repute, recently celebrated her ninety-fifth birthday. She has written seven books and many magazine articles as well as published scientific papers.

As the author tells us in the preface, she and her husband "intruded" upon a piece of near virgin land half way between the Great Lakes and the southernmost Up of James Bay by a small lake called Pimisi Bay. In this remote yet beautiful place Lawrence spent her time watching, listening, reflecting and recording. It was in this wilderness that her initial simple enjoyment of fresh air, solitude and space to move turned into a serious involve­ment with nature. This relationship with the natural environment developed slowly and spread across half a lifetime. It aroused mixed feelings: elation at being able to see what was previously hidden, but confusion at knowing more while becoming aware of knowing far too little of all there was to know.

There are myriad published accounts of people's experiences with nature, so one might think that another set of notes on a walk at dawn, of observations of a family of nuthatches, nesting phoebes, of woodpeckers, chickadees, squirrels and jays would be of insufficient interest to hold the attention of any but the most dedicated naturalist. That this is not the case is a tribute to Lawrence's skill as a writer. Each essay in this book is a gem. Her acute observations are written with beautiful polished fluency and are free from the anthropomorphisms that plague much of the genre. The writing is sensitive and humorous, as fresh and as full of life as her wild subjects. As an exemplar of nature writing at its best this book should be in every secondary school library in Canada. I cannot recommend this book too highly.

Fred Leicester, Golden School District, Golden, B.C.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works