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Joan Barfoot

Toronto, Macmillan, 1989. 267pp, cloth, $19.95
ISBN 0-7715-9938-2. CIP

Reviewed by Jerry McDonnell.

Volume 18 Number 1
1990 January

What relationship do newspaper articles have to reality? Do they state the truth or can reality be different for readers, for observers and even for the various participants in a story? What are the motives behind the actions described and can we possibly predict the future courses of the persons dis­cussed?

Barfoot chronicles a few days in the lives of the family of Susannah and her daughter, Lizzie. The family is some­what unusual, as Susannah is a single mother by choice who recruited a former lover as father of the child she wanted to have. Unfortunately, her parents and sister did not react as she had expected and the rift has gone unbridged for fourteen years. It is the death of Susannah's father that provides the stimulus for action.

In fact, the events themselves are less important than the relationships ex­plored. There are two generations of mothers and daughters as well as sisters and female friends. Men also figure in the book but mostly as outsiders and people who can be used to accomplish one's ambitions or who can be a barrier. In either case they do not provide satisfactory partners in any kind of relationship and they do not see things in the same way as women. When Susannah's mother finds that her dead husband, to whom she always acqui­esced, has been the cause of her greatest unhappiness, she says with vehemence and hatred, “’I could kill him’.”

This is an intriguing story and should be in public and high school libraries, where it could be a supple­mental book for English, family studies or man-in-society courses. Read it and find the significance of the newspaper clippings.

Highly recommended.

Jerry McDonnell, F.E. Madill Secondary School, Wingham, Ont.
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