BIRD ON THE WING by Winifred Madison


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Elizabeth, unhappy in Lincoln, Nebraska with her father and new stepmother, hitchhikes to her actress mother in California -- traveling most of the way with Maija, a young weaver with remarkable serenity and dedication to her craft. Thus when Mother's new husband proves distressingly friendly Elizabeth finds herself AWOL again, sharing Maija's spartan San Francisco apartment. At first Maija functions as a substitute parent and when Elizabeth announces that she too wishes to become a weaver, Maija takes over her life, structuring not only her assignments at the loom but her daily schedule and Sunday outings as well. Still the girls live a near idyllic existence until -- conveniently for Elizabeth's development -- Maija is murdered in the laundromat she manages part time and Elizabeth, after finishing Maija's commissioned hanging, returns to finish high school in lincoln. Through it all Elizabeth remains somehow protected, incredibly lucky from her first meeting with Maija on -- and we would be more impressed by the older gift's togetherness and the younger one's happiness in her presence if it were not so frequently remarked upon. Just the same when Elizabeth does return to Lincoln, it is undoubtedly with an enlarged understanding and a new resolve to devote herself after graduation to the study of weaving. It is hard not to envy her the friends and commitments she makes in San Francisco, and even harder not to absorb Maija's lessons on the compulsion and the craft of weaving.

Pub Date: March 22nd, 1974
Page count: 249pp
Publisher: Little, Brown