Donez Xiques. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2005; 408 pp; ISBN: 1550025791, hardcover $40 ca.
Margaret Laurence: The Making of a Writer is an engaging narrative that contains new and important findings about one of the most revered writers of twentieth-century Canadian literature. This biography reveals the challenges, successes, and failures of the long apprenticeship that preceded the publication of The Stone Angel, Margaret Laurence’s first commercially successful novel. Donez Xiques demonstrates the importance of Laurence’s early work as a journalist in her development as a writer and covers her return to Canada from Africa in the late 1950s. She details the significance of Laurence’s “Vancouver years” as well as the challenges of her year in London prior to settling in Buckinghamshire, when Laurence stood on the verge of success. The Margaret Laurence known to most people is a public figure of the 60s and 70s — matriarchal, matronly and accomplished. The story of her early years in the harsh setting of the Canadian Prairies during the 30s — years of drought and the Great Depression — and of her African years has never before been chronicled with the thoroughness and vividness that Xiques provides for the reader. Appended to this powerful new biography is a previously unpublished short story by Laurence and two other stories of hers that have not been widely available.
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