Saturday, July 9

Book Review: The Fire-Dwellers

Title: The Fire-Dwellers

Author: Margaret Laurence

Pages: 286

Summary: Stacey MacAindra burns - to burst through the shadows of her existence to a richer life, to recover some of the passion she can only dimly remember from her past.

The Fire-Dwellers is and extraordinary novel about a woman who has four children, a hard-working but uncommunicative husband, a spinster sister, and an abiding conviction that life has more to offer her than the tedious routine of her days.

Margaret Laurence has given us another unforgettable heroine - human, compelling full of poetry, irony and humour. In the telling of her life, Stacey rediscovers for us all the richness of the commonplace, the pain and beauty in being alive, and the secret music that dances in everyone's soul.

My Rating:7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I found the book to be slow at times, but I did enjoy the read overall. Margaret Laurence was a brilliant author, and she is able bring the reader into the mind of a housewife/mother of four during the mid 1900's. The way it was written took some getting used to, as the reader is able to read the thoughts of Stacey. I both liked and disliked this aspect of the At one hand, the reader is able to see more deeply into the mind of the narrator and character of the book, on the other hand, it became distracting at times, and slowed the book down as well - but it did help me appreciate the character more than I would have if it were written differently.

The book moves slowly, which was good for plot and character development - the author did focus on making her character believable - you may not like them much, or may think they're miserable people, but they are believable - they are very similar to the type of characterization in David Adams Richards' books actually. Especially taken the time period the book was written, it does do a good job at highlighting the concerns, lifestyle of it. But the slow moving plot was also a curse, as I felt at times the book dragged on. Even for such a short book, I think some aspects could have been omitted. The conversations and attempt at communication with her husband was one of the issues. After a while, it just seemed repetitive and seemed to slow down the plot from moving forward.

All in all, not a bad read, in the least, the book was written wonderfully, Laurence was a fantastic author.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. Margaret Laurence did a great job, at showing the angst and struggles of women-mother-wife, of the time. The reader does get the feel of her emotions and struggles she faces, it may not have been the best in its genre, but the writing is good, and the message is strong.

What to read next: Stone Angel, A Jest of God, A Bird in the House, The Diviners - all of these books are part of the same series. The Edible Woman, Surfacing. Nights Below Station Street, Evening Snow Will Bring Such Peace

Challenges: 11 in 11, 1oo+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Canadian Reading Challenge V,


  1. I am a fan of Margaret Laurence ("Loons" is one of my favourite short stories ever), but like you, I agree she can be a slow read. I think Laurence shaped CanLit, but I certainly wouldn't want everyone to adopt her style.

  2. Margaret Laurence is one of the few authors whose titles I've re-read, though not this particular book.

  3. John - I've never read her short stories, but you're right he did shape CanLit. A good author, hoping to read more by here.

    Wamda - This book seems to be lesser known. The Stone Angel and Diviners seem to be the most popular ones. This one was good, but not sure if its re-read worthy good. Which ones have you re-read?