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A Bird in the House
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
23 posts | 12 read | 8 to read
A Bird in the House is a series of eight interconnected short stories narrated by Vanessa MacLeod as she matures from a child at age ten into a young woman at age twenty. Wise for her years, Vanessa reveals much about the adult world in which she lives. "Vanessa rebels against the dominance of age; she watches [her grandfather] imitate her aunt Edna; and her rage at times is such that she would gladly kick him. It takes great skill to keep this story within the expanding horizon of this young girl and yet make it so revealing of the adult world."Atlantic "A Bird in the House achieves the breadth of scope which we usually associate with the novel (and thereby is as psychologically valid as a good novel), and at the same time uses the techniques of the short story form to reveal the different aspects of the young Vanessa." Kent Thompson, The Fiddlehead "I am haunted by the women in Laurence's novels as if they really were aliveand not as women I've known, but as women I've been."Joan Larkin, Ms. Magazine "Not since . . . To Kill a Mockingbird has there been a novel like this. It should not be missed by anyone who has a child or was a child."Pittsburgh Post-Gazette One of Canada's most accomplished writers, Margaret Laurence (1926-87) was the recipient of many awards including Canada's prestigious Governor General's Literary Award on two separate occasions, once for The Diviners.
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LeahBergen
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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And book four of the Manawakan cycle is completed.

Much like my fellow #Manawakans, I feel this to be the slightest of the series thus far and I too think it must be due to the episodic nature of a group of interconnected short stories. That being said, I still found myself fully immersed in young Vanessa MacLeod‘s world and enjoyed keeping an eye out for any links to our previous reads in the series.

LeahBergen My father lives in this part of the world and I also had fun figuring out the real locations of places mentioned: Galloping Mountain = Riding Mountain Natl. Park, Diamond Lake = Clear Lake, etc. 😊 1mo
merelybookish Your collection is so pretty and fun to learn about the geography. I bet knowing the region adds to your reading experience! 1mo
LeahBergen @merelybookish It does! I‘ve visited the Margaret Laurence House Museum in Neepawa and it‘s a yellow brick Victorian as she describes in these books. Oh, and she and her mother moved there when Margaret was nine to live with her Grandfather Simpson. Hmm… parallels or what? 🤔 1mo
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merelybookish @LeahBergen Oh right. The afterword suggested this book was somewhat autobiographical. 1mo
vivastory I agree with @merelybookish Hopefully someday I can visit! Also, although this has been my least favorite there were definitely strong autobiographical elements as the group has pointed out 1mo
BarbaraBB Such beautiful editions 🥰. Looking forward to Diveners 1mo
batsy So cool that you've visited the house and can link to the actual places. Stuff like that really enriches the reading 💜 All of those covers are so pretty in a row! 1mo
LeahBergen @vivastory It makes me hate that grandfather a bit more just thinking that he might be based on a real person. 😠 1mo
LeahBergen @BarbaraBB I am, too! 1mo
LeahBergen @batsy I like the mid century colours that Penguin chose. 👌 1mo
TheKidUpstairs These editions are gorgeous! @BarbaraBB The Diviners is one all time favourite CanLit reads, I hope you enjoy! 1mo
BarbaraBB @TheKidUpstairs I have high hopes! 1mo
59 likes12 comments
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merelybookish
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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This is my least favorite of Laurence's Manawaka series, but still worth reading! My issue, I think, is I still didn't feel like I KNEW Vanessa by the end. And since Vanessa is an adolescent for most of the book, I think that was intentional. She probably didn't really know herself. Instead we get to know other people through Vanessa's eyes. The stories are well done, just less engaging somehow. Also, poor Nanuk! ☹️🐶
#manakwakans

BarbaraBB Excellent review. I think you‘re right about Laurence‘s intentions but it didn‘t have as much effect on me either. 2mo
vivastory That's very interesting about her not knowing herself. I think that was definitely my issue, it felt like all of the other characters were more real. And, I completely agree about Nanuk. That section broke my heart. 2mo
merelybookish @vivastory @BarbaraBB I think it speaks to Laurence's craft that she is able to write Vanessa in this way. She never felt unreal to me, but just elusive. But not like she was intentionally hiding anything. Just that was un-developed in a way. It comes through often how much she doesn't understand what she is witnessing. 2mo
batsy The Nanuk bit was just quietly devastating 💔 2mo
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LeahBergen
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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Oh no, y‘all! It‘s the Tabernacle from A Jest of God! 😮

BarbaraBB I didn‘t notice since I haven‘t read that one yet but I love that name! 2mo
batsy Ooh! I didn't clock that reference 🙈 2mo
shawnmooney Surely she jests!? 😎 😎 2mo
vivastory Good catch! The father's response made me laugh 🤣 2mo
merelybookish I didn't catch that! But Noreen did make me like the church any more. 😆 2mo
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batsy
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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This book is a series of interconnected stories told from the POV of an adult looking back at her childhood. The way these quiet stories unfurled reminded me a bit of Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women or Joan Chase's During the Reign of the Queen of Persia. I missed the wit, anger, idiosyncrasy & uncompromising vision that characterised the protagonists in A Jest of God and the Fire Dwellers, but these stories exerted a subtle, tender power.

batsy I found Isabel Huggan's Afterword thoughtful in how it outlines the "writerly eye" that Vanessa has, a character that partly reflects Laurence's own life. The way Vanessa, as a child who is largely alone with no particular confidante, absorbs the circumstances of her life & the people around her, & then sifts through the moods, emotions, & experiences to create stories out of them is an extended metaphor of the writer's creative coming of age. 2mo
batsy But otherwise as @BarbaraBB and @vivastory have mentioned this one didn't quite hit the mark as the previous two I read with the group! @LeahBergen @merelybookish #manawakans 2mo
Butterfinger I love reading your reviews. If you are not already, you should be professional. 2mo
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LauraBeth Agree with @Butterfinger! 2mo
batsy @Butterfinger @LauraBeth Thank you, you're very kind 💜💜 2mo
nathandrake1997 Exquisite review ❤️❤️❤️❤️ I wish I could write even half as brilliant as this someday ❤️❤️❤️❤️ 2mo
BarbaraBB You should, Suba, your reviews are always so on point! 2mo
LeahBergen Lovely review! I‘m the slow poke reader of the group for this one. 😆 2mo
CarolynM I agree with @Butterfinger too. Your reviews are always thoughtful and so well expressed. I wish I could put my thoughts into words the way you do. 2mo
batsy @nathandrake1997 @BarbaraBB @CarolynM Thank you so much 😘😘😘 2mo
batsy @LeahBergen Thank you! And I'm surprised at not being the slow poke this time 😁 #SlowPokesUnite 2mo
merelybookish Great review! I just finished (count me with the slowpokes!) I didn't think of her as a writer when I was reading but agree the Huggan afterword made me reconsider. 2mo
batsy @merelybookish Thank you! Yes, I found the afterword helpful in thinking through some of the stories; I went back to reread some passages because of it. 2mo
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vivastory
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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I'm frankly a bit at a loss to explain why this didn't work as well for me as the previous books in Laurence's Manawaka sequence. Initially I thought that it was because Laurence uses a first person narrative. Prior to Bird in the House, my last experience with an interconnected collection was Strout's Olive Kitteridge & Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. Both read in the past month, & both notable for being narrated in the third person, I was👇

vivastory under the brief impression that my issue with Laurence's work might be her narrative decision to use first person. However, a look through my books dispelled this as I recalled that both Ogawa's Revenge & Johnson's Jesus' Son are both narrated (at least partially) in the first person. Laurence's book is Vanessa MacLeod's coming of age story. It tells of her conflict with her irascible grandfather & her beloved Aunt Edna. My favorite (edited) 2mo
vivastory stories were the title story, “The Mask of the Bear,“ & the devastating “Horses of the Night.“ In Horses of the Night, Laurence writes of a character, “...the unreal solutions to which he'd clung because there were no others, the brave and useless strokes of fantasy against a depression that was both the world's and his own.“ This moment arrives late in the story for a character who persists with new careers, regardless of how menial & temporary 2mo
vivastory they clearly are. This moment arrives like a literal gut punch. Although Bird in the House is sparkling in places & def worthwhile, it is shorter on the epiphanies. #Manawakans (edited) 2mo
See All 10 Comments
vivastory @barbarabb @merelybookish @batsy @leahbergen I will be ordering my copy of The Diviners later this week, to read next month. I have heard that it is one of her best! I was planning on ordering it today but I *may* have been distracted by the NYRB Noir flash sale (edited) 2mo
merelybookish I'm halfway through and I have similar meh feelings but hopefully can say more when I finish. But we will finish strong with The Diviners which is her best, imo!! 2mo
vivastory @merelybookish I've heard it's her best & honestly after reading her first 3 it just boggles the mind 😂 2mo
LeahBergen Wait … wasn‘t The Stone Angel first person? I have to check! 2mo
vivastory @LeahBergen It did. I didn't explain that well. I initially thought that maybe part of my issue with Bird in the House is using first person in a collection of interconnected stories. After thinking about it that wasn't really the problem. 2mo
LeahBergen Ah, okay. I‘ll chime in when I‘ve read more than the first few pages. Forgive my premature “butting in”. 😆😆 2mo
batsy It didn't quite work for me too, but that's because I'm not quite sold on the interconnected short stories form. The individual stories can be brilliant, even, but as a book something about its form doesn't quite *stick* with me. It's kind of a weird taste thing on my part, I think 😆 2mo
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vivastory
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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LeahBergen Stacey Cameron! 👉 😆😆 2mo
vivastory @LeahBergen 😅 It made my day 2mo
BarbaraBB I didn‘t even notice! But I love it! 2mo
batsy Yes! 😁 2mo
batsy (There's a person that came up that we'll be meeting in The Diviners!) 2mo
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LeahBergen
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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Okay, #Manawakans … I‘m diving in.

vivastory 👏👏 I read most of it today. Looking forward to your thoughts. I love your edition BTW 2mo
shawnmooney 🙌🙌🙌. Happy memories of studying this one at university! 2mo
LeahBergen @vivastory I‘m actually enjoying the design of these new Penguins a lot. 👍🏻 2mo
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LeahBergen @shawnmooney How many of the Manawakan series have you read? 2mo
batsy Those editions are fab! 😍 And sadly unavailable on Book Depository. 2mo
BarbaraBB I love your edition too. I‘m surprised it‘s Penguin, I haven‘t been able to find that one either! 2mo
AWildMandaPanda What a wonderful book and edition! 2mo
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vivastory
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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This passage is giving me flashbacks to Jest of God. Laurence on religion 🔥
#Manawakans

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BarbaraBB
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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#BookReport 41/21

Life keeps getting in the way of my reading. Just these two in the past week. The Moss is great, the Laurence a bit less.

Megabooks I‘m excited to read Summerwater 💜 2mo
BarbaraBB @Megabooks I hope it‘ll reach you soon! 🤍 2mo
TrishB Great summary 👍🏻 I agree about the Moss. 2mo
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vivastory
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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"In winter my Grandfather Connor used to wear an enormous coat made of the pelt of a bear... The coat was so heavy I could not even lift it by myself...In my mind I sometimes called him The Great Bear" #manawakans

Jess Looks like Edward Gorey. 2mo
Soubhiville I love that image. 2mo
vivastory @Jess It is 🙂 2mo
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Jess Nice! Thanks for the picture. Love it. 2mo
vivastory @Soubhiville In the story I'm reading the coat that is described is not as glamorous as this one, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to post this 2mo
LeahBergen 😆 So cool! 2mo
vivastory @LeahBergen 😅 I aspire to this level of IDGAF 2mo
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vivastory
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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#Manawakans
I just now realized that this a book of interconnected stories. I love interconnected stories, I'll be curious to see how it compares to her previous work. @BarbaraBB @merelybookish @LeahBergen @batsy

LeahBergen I was surprised when I saw it was stories, too. 2mo
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BarbaraBB
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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#Manawakans

Margaret Laurence has an extraordinary way of creating characters, dialogues and expressions. This book consists of interweaving short stories about a girl coming of age in Manawaka. It was good again but I prefer her books about women taking charge of their lives.

batsy I'm not finished yet and though I'm liking it so far I agree with your last sentence! 2mo
sarahbarnes All of your travel books! 😍 2mo
vivastory I just read the back & realized it's an interlinked collection & then I saw your review. It'll be interesting. One of my favorites of the year was an interconnected collection. 2mo
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LeahBergen I‘m just starting today! 2mo
BarbaraBB @vivastory Which one was that? 2mo
BarbaraBB @LeahBergen Curious to hear where you‘ll end up! 2mo
BarbaraBB @sarahbarnes Yes! Those were the days! 2mo
vivastory Olive Kitteridge. I really need to take your advice & read 2mo
BarbaraBB @vivastory I can understand that. Olive Kitteridge is great. This one is good too but because it‘s a coming-of-age story it‘s very different from both other books I read by her. 2mo
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vivastory
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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Hey #Manawakans I haven't forgotten about Laurence. To say that this has been a difficult week at work would be an understatement. I am planning on diving in this weekend. @BarbaraBB @LeahBergen @batsy @merelybookish

LeahBergen I‘ll start then, too. 👍🏻 I hope your week improves! 2mo
vivastory @LeahBergen Thanks! I'm holding on knowing that it's nearly over 🤣🍷 2mo
BarbaraBB No rush Scott, take care. And take wine 🍷 2mo
vivastory @BarbaraBB Thanks! There will definitely be wine this weekend 📚🍷📚🍷 2mo
batsy Yep, definitely no rush where our lowkey buddy read is concerned! I hope you have a good weekend to decompress and get some reading in. I started this but I'm slow to make progress; it's very different in terms of her usual narrators but it's also giving me Queen of Persia vibes (in parts). 2mo
53 likes5 comments
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merelybookish
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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I love fall! Look at those colours! 😍
From my morning walk. I also started tagged book today. #manawakans

TiredLibrarian Beautiful! 🍂🍁 2mo
LeahBergen Gorgeous! 2mo
Hooked_on_books I haven‘t lived in a place with fall color for a while now, so thank you for posting this beautiful view! 😍 2mo
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BarbaraBB Gorgeous 😍. I‘ll start it later today! 2mo
merelybookish @Hooked_on_books My pleasure. I'm back here for the first time in many years and am kind of in awe of the beauty! 2mo
Cathythoughts I love the colours too .. it‘s such a beautiful time in the year 💫 2mo
vivastory That's incredible! With temps being out of control because of global warming I've noticed a lack of changing leaves in kc the past few years 2mo
Centique Wow! That‘s gorgeous 😍 1mo
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merelybookish
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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Is this our next read #manawakans? And if so, do we have a scheduled start date? I haven't read it before so am excited to see how it relates to the others!
@vivastory @BarbaraBB @LeahBergen @batsy

vivastory This is it! I'm ready to start as soon as the group have copies 🙂 2mo
vivastory And yes, I agree. It'll be interesting to read a collection of stories rather than a novel 2mo
LeahBergen I‘m ready to go when the group‘s ready, too! 2mo
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BarbaraBB I have my copy and and ready when you are. 2mo
batsy I'm not sure what happened with this book and The Diviners that the paperbacks are so expensive when converted to local currency 😭 But I've managed to procure an ebook so I'm ready to start when everyone is ready 👍🏽 2mo
vivastory @merelybookish @LeahBergen @BarbaraBB @batsy How does this upcoming Sunday sound? 2mo
LeahBergen @vivastory Sure! That should work. 2mo
batsy @vivastory Sounds good. 2mo
merelybookish @vivastory Works for me! 2mo
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vivastory
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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I stopped by HPB following training this morning. Found a few friends to take home.

Leftcoastzen I enjoyed the Guest Cat, Chandler & Vonnegut anything. (edited) 4mo
vivastory @Leftcoastzen This is one of only 2 or 3 Vonnegut novels I haven't read. I'm glad to hear that about The Guest Cat. The New Directions logo was promising. The High Window was discussed on an older backlisted episode & reminded me I'd like to round out my Chandler collection 4mo
LeahBergen Another Margaret Laurence! 👍 4mo
vivastory @LeahBergen I almost bought a hardcover edition of Stone Angel. Only reason I didn't was it was a bit too worn. 4mo
70 likes4 comments
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aloslibrary
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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The best way to drink #booksandbooze 🥃📚🖤😂👍

Chelsey I don't have a single flask. I have no idea why not, but this is one I need! 4y
aloslibrary @Chelsey it's from book riot, in case you're interested 😁🍻 4y
50 likes2 comments
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ItsAnotherJen
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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This is our #bookclubbook for March! It is collection of short stories, each from Vanessa's point of view.
Vanessa is a young girl growing up during the Depression in a small town. The stories are not chronological. You get to see how the family dynamic changes through the years.
I did enjoy the style of writing. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child offers a unique perspective. (*Sunglasses added for my enjoyment😎)
3/5 stars

MrBook Nice review! 5y
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Nebklvr
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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Written much as a collection of memories from the Great Depression era. A look at the many conflicts of culture and obstacles families faced.

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Nebklvr
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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Working on this month's bookclub selection

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aloslibrary
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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beautiful book

SurfWrtrEryn This book sounds like a fantastic read! I can't wait to pick it up, thank you for sharing! 5y
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TheBrockUEnglishMajor
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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A collection of short stories revolving around a young girl (Vanessa) and her family during the depression in small town Manitoba. I loved the family dynamics displayed in each story. Filled with characters that evoke strong reactions/connections, there wasn't a character I didn't care about. 4/5

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TheBrockUEnglishMajor
A Bird in the House: Stories | Margaret Laurence
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"I got this theory, see, that anybody can do anything at all, anything, if they really set their minds to it... you have to focus on it with your whole mental powers ... You take most people, now. They can't concentrate worth a darn."