Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bird in the House by Margaret Laurence

The discovery of an old book that becomes a new favourite is one of the pleasures of working in the library.  Such a book is Margaret Laurence’s Bird in the House. In this book, by one of Canada’s best loved writers, are eight inter-connected short stories of a young girl Vanessa Macloed, growing up on the Manitoba prairies during the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

This book offers a young girl’s view of her world.  She lives with her extended family in the fictional town of Manawaka, in the brick house built by her grandfather.  Vanessa is very interested in the people around her and often indulges in eavesdropping.  We meet the interesting and varied people that live under the same roof;  her strict, feared grandfather; her gregarious Aunt Edna, and her parents and little brother.  Through Vanessa’s voice we learn of family love and conflict and a young girl’s growing awareness of herself and the world around her. 

The title of this book comes from the old saying, “a bird in the house means a death in the house”.  This beautifully written novel about the beauty, pain and wonder of growing up is strongly recommended to anyone who wants to delve into some classic Canadian fiction.   

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