Miss Laurence is one of a handful of women writers who in those pre-Lib years saw their heroines through a traditionally...

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THE DIVINERS

Miss Laurence is one of a handful of women writers who in those pre-Lib years saw their heroines through a traditionally masculine identity-search progress (get out of town and keep moving toward the Insight) with peculiarly female recognition of the ties that bind and chafe. Even in her least effective novels (and this is surely one) Miss Laurence can produce a kitchen so stale and brown you know the mayonnaise jar will have a knife sticking up in it; and she intuits easily a woman's sexual fears of ego-loss. Here a 47 year-old writer, Morag Gunn, alone in rural Canadian digs, copes with writer's drought, middle-aged anomie and the wanderings of teen-age daughter Pique while she reviews her life. She was orphaned at five, adopted by Scavenger (garbageman) Christie and his sad, hapless elephantine wife, and then she struggled upward from wrong-side-of-the-tracks ostracism into college and marriage to a cool, possessive British professor. Then came divorce and the birth of Pique by a half-breed folksinger, whose father, like Morag's Christie, was a poor, unstable residual of once-proud Scots or French/Indian adventurers. Morag's life, in fact, seems to have been shadowed by the mythic dispossessed -- Christie roaring out his tales of Piper Gunn who brought the starving crofters to the new world; adventurers of the mighty Rider Tonnerre; and, in the present, an old diviner who had lost his gift. At the last, Morag settles for the promise of continuity in the magic of Pipers, Riders, well water -- or words. An ungainly, splayed novel with a few inventive originals, some strong Laurencian moments -- but generally too crowded and warmed over.

Pub Date: April 1, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1974