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Knister, Raymond
Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1990. 152pp, paper, $5.95, ISBN 0-7710-9963-0. (New Canadian Library series). CIP

Grades 9 and up/Ages 14 and up

Reviewed by David Chadwick

Volume 18 Number 5
1990 September

Another reprint in the "New Canadian Library" series, this was the only novel Knister published before he drowned in 1932. He is best known for his short stories and poetry, which have been collected and published in five different collections in the last few years, the most recently in 1983.

White Narcissus is a landmark Canadian novel of rural life in the years prior to the Great Depression. Knister writes of a time and place where isolation and social convention forced people to accept conditions no longer tolerable in an era of relaxed divorce laws and easier mobility. The title refers to the vast collection of the plants that one of the characters saves as a symbol of her unhappy life.

Despite its age the novel holds up very well, in both its representation of the era and the conflicts faced by people at that time. White Narcissus was worth reprinting and although it is not a page turner in the thriller tradition or a classic it has substance that should keep it in print for some time yet. Most libraries will want to have this book along with the rest of the excellent series.

David Chadwick, Winnipeg, Man.

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