Saturday, August 31

Book Review: The Diviners

Title: The Diviners

Author: Margaret Laurence

Pages: 494

Summary: The culmination and completion of Margaret Laurence's celebrated Manawaka cycle, The Diviners is an epic novel. This is the powerful story of an independent woman who refuses to abandon her search for love. For Morag Gunn, growing up in a small Canadian prairie town is a toughening process - putting distance between herself and a world that wanted no part of her. But in time, the aloneness that had once been forced upon her becomes a precious right - relinquished only in her overwhelming need for love. Again and again, Morag is forced to test her strength against the world - and finally achieves the life she had determined would be hers.

The Diviners has been acclaimed by many critics as the outstanding achievement of Margaret Laurence's writing career. In Morag Gunn, Laurence has created a figure whose experience emerges as that of all dispossessed people in search of their birthright, and one who survives as an inspirational symbol of courage and endurance.

My Rating: 10/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: From start to finish I was pretty much captured by the book, it did have a slow moment here and there, but this book will likely be one of my favourite reads of the year.

I think how Laurence brought both the past into the story and tied it all together was handled wonderfully. Especially how the author brought the reader back to Morag's past. The "Memorybank Movie" the author used to help bring the reader back to the past, to see Morag growing up as a child, to adult. Showing the reader the individual events and glimpses at pieces of her past here and there worked out wonderfully. It wasn't overdone, but balanced out with the present and it always seemed to connect to what was happening during the present time. This was one of the best methods I've seen when an author has written a story that bounces back from past to present. The author created an excellent atmosphere where the character (Morag), was looking back and recalling a memory, as opposed to being given a carbon copy of what happened in the past. I think this helped shape Morag as a character - as sometimes you questioned how reliable her memory was, especially those of her childhood. As an adult, you do remember events in your childhood different, or have a new perspective of them, once you have that adult "wisdom" and the author showed this in her "Memorybank moments" of Morag's past.

Morag as a character was another aspect of the book that lured me in. She was a deeply flawed character, both in good ways and bad. She was one I enjoyed reading about and she's a very memorable character. Even as an adult, with a child of her own( who mirrors her own struggles when Morag was her age,) Morag was shown to be in a constant conflict with trying to find her identify. Again, going back to the idea of past and present, the reader does get a good grasp at who Morag is as a character - I might evens say the reader knows as much about Morag as she knows of herself, sometimes I felt we knew more. I'm not sure what about Morag makes her stick with me, even long after I've fished the book, but there was just something about her, that keeps her in my mind. She's a very intriguing character and I wished I had just a little more time with her.

An excellent book overall and a book I'd highly recommended. It's a book you want to both devour and take in slowly.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, this was one of the best from the series, and if you read only one book by the author this one would be a good choice. There are a lot of elements to the book, and has a slow moving plot which could potentially be a turn off, but it's a book well worth reading.

What to read next: If you haven't read the other books in the Manawaka series yet, I'd start there (The Stone Angel, The Fire-Dwellers, Bird in the House, Jest of God)

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge


  1. I loved this book. I didn't read all in the Manawaka series. (Can't believe I've still not read The Stone Angel), but I think her writing is so good the books stand on their own.

    1. I think this one was the best of the series, The Stone Angel is a close second. It's been about ten years since I've read that one, it definitely needs a re-read. The writing in the rest of the series is nearly as strong as it is in this one, and you don't need to read the others in any order, if I remember correctly. The Bird in the House, would be my second favourite of the series, it's a collection of mini-short stories, all interconnected. It might be worth a try if you want to read the rest of the series, but The Stone Angel is a must read!

  2. Sounds like a great book. Sadly, I've never heard of it before, but it sounds like one of the classics of Canadian literature. I'll have to add it to my list of books to read!

    1. It is a classic of Canadian Lit and one that is a must read. There's a lot to take from the book, but most of all an enjoyable read in the end. I hope you like the book when you get a chance to read it.