Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Unless and The Fire Dwellers

This weekend I read my definitive favourite book, Unless by Carol Shields, as well as The Fire Dwellers, which was always my favourite Margaret Laurence novel. Although written about thirty years apart, these two books are so companionable, which I never would have noticed had I not read one right after the other. Both novels are mired in domesticity, wife and motherhood, and elaborate such clear truths. Though Laurence's novel isn't first person, Stacey's voice is used throughout, and its wry tone is so similar to Reta's. They both depict a mother's ambivalence toward her children to a point, and then such a fierce and primal love. Though both are clearly feminist texts, yet there is a certain ambiguity that makes these stories real. I loved both of them. And particularly Unless, as usual. I absolutely adore Carol Shields' ability to paint a happy marriage, and for that and other reasons, this book gives me faith.