HEART OF A STRANGER by Margaret Laurence


Email this review


Essays written by the Canadian novelist between 1964 and 1975, mostly for magazine publication, make a wobbly lot. The ""stranger"" of the title is the fiction writer, a ""perpetual traveller, an explorer of those inner territories."" And an interesting guide when she aims for those ""strange lands of the heart and spirit"" in quiet, reflective sketches of the prairie town of her novels, an African friendship that grew in spite of meticulous coddling, recognition in her ancestral Scotland that her country is Canada. Her most evocative and moving pieces are (like her novels) about survival--""not just physical survival, but the preservation of some human dignity"": the trials of the Highland Scots, the Metis people of Northwest Canada, the Dervishes of Somaliland who fought with spears against the RAF. But many of these essays, published originally as travel articles, are about actual ""strange lands,"" and these too are uneven, ranging from an informative piece on the major tourist attractions of Egypt to a glib account of four days in Greece in company with everybody's stereotypical tour group. A piece on her English ""cottage"" is, as she says, ""relatively frivolous."" A few others--on ""memorable"" TV appearances, taxi rides, and flights (""Air travelling with young children can be fun"") are abysmally so, and unrescued by trite effusions: ""We were all bright blue with cold."" Traveling is rarely steady on--but this explorer goes by roller coaster.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1977
Publisher: Lippincott