CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Mavis Gallant.

Toronto, Macmillan, c1970, 1983.
308pp, paper, $9.95.
ISBN 0-7715-9775-4.


Mavis Gallant.

Toronto, Macmillan, c1959, 1983. .
154pp, paper, $6.95.
ISBN 0-7715-9774-6.

Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by Joan Kerrigan.

Volume 12 Number 3
1984 May

Laurentian Library has again issued new paperback editions of Mavis Gallant's earlier works: Green Water, Green Sky (1959) and A Fairly Good Time (1970).

Gallant's first novel, Green Water, Green Sky is extremely short, almost a novella, about the relationship of two expatriate Americans. They are a divorced mother and her daughter, whose lives are intertwined to the point of suffocation for the daughter. In order to escape from the domination of her mother, the daughter, Flor, marries an American living in Paris, but the marriage is completely unsuitable for her. After a short time, Flor suffers a complete breakdown.

Mavis Gallant shows her usual skill in her characterizations of two lost souls-women without a country—who have to cling to each other, out of desperation. The tone is disturbing but touching in that the reader sympathizes with the loneliness and alienation of the unfortunate pair. Recommended.

A Fairly Good Time, is much more complex and much longer, but also deals with an expatriate in Paris. This time the main character is a Canadian. Shirley Perrigny's third husband, a Frenchman, has left her but not without cause. Her feckless, disorganized life would be difficult to deal with on a daily basis. Although Shirley is ultimately a survivor, she stumbles through life picking up an unusual assortment of acquaintances who tend to prey on her good nature and poor judgment. She wins the reader's sympathy because she is innately likeable.

This novel would provide an excellent comparative study with Green Water, Green Sky because of the expatriate theme, and the different approaches of the main characters to the crises in their lives. Recommended.

Joan Kerrigan, Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, ON.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works