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The Diviners. [Hardcover]

Margaret Laurence
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1974
Morag Gunn, now in her mid-forties, lives in a riverside farmhouse in Eastern Ontario. Through a series of flashbacks she reviews the painful and exhilarating moments of her earlier life: her childhood on the social margins of the small prairie town of Manawaka; her escape from a demeaning marriage into writing fiction; and her travels to England, Scotland and finally back to Canada where she faces a different challenge - the necessity to understand, and let go of, the daughter she loves. A feminist saga as inspirational as when it was first published in 1974, The Diviners is an evocative exploration of one woman's search for her identity.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Perhaps the best known and most loved of all Margaret Laurence's novels, The Diviners was also her last novel and the final entry in her Manawaka sequence. Laurence, who saw The Diviners as her own fictional autobiography, tells the story of 48-year-old Morag Gunn as she struggles to finish another novel. As she works, she reminisces about her life. It's her story but it's also the story of the men and women who have fostered her, for good and bad: her parents, who died when she was five; her eccentric stepfather and his reclusive wife; her overbearing and repressive husband, who tried to smother her dreams to write; and the sensuous but unreliable Native lover who inspires her, with whom she bears a daughter and with whom she is never happy.

The Diviners is Laurence at her most inventive. She incorporates flashbacks, personal reminiscences, imaginary conversations, and philosophical meditations, shifting between narrative and digression to give readers a sense of Morag's thought processes. The novel also incorporates the themes that mattered most to Laurence: racial and gender equality, the validity of the Canadian literary experience, and the importance of artistic expression in society. The Diviners, which brought Laurence her second Governor General's Award in 1974, is a rich and striking novel, a fitting finale for Laurence's portrait of Manawaka. --Jeffrey Canton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


It's hard to think of a contemporary novel more moving and more triumphant than THE DIVINERS Sara Maitland --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The Manawaka cycle consists of the following books: "A Bird in the House", "A Jest of God", "The Fire Dwellers" "Stone Angel", and "The Diviners". It is truly a portayal the cycle of life for women.
I discovered Margaret Laurence while living in a log cabin in Canada at the height of my feminist awakening in the 1970's. Although steeped in far more radical authors such as Betty Friedan and Virginia Woolf, Laurence's Manawaka series touched me as no others, perhaps because I identified with each and every woman of her books. The startling part was that none of their lives looked anything like mine--not in the slightest. And yet I felt as if I were each character and came away with a bit more insight into myself. I loved the way she chose women who were unlike each other, but all of whom had contact with each other in some way. One was a main character in one book and a minor one in another book. One was a young girl, another a middle-aged woman, and yet another a dying elderly woman. One was the wealthy daughter of a town leader, the other the daughter of the garbage collector. And each woman learned something about herself and her life through the drama of the story. Laurence's solutions for each woman were far from simplistic, but each woman came to some resolution in her life. To read only one misses the eloquence of the series, the portrait of rural Manitoba and of people who inhabit the imaginary town of Manawaka. I wish that the series were published in one volume so that readers did not risk entering the characters from only one person's perpective. I have not read the books since the 1970's and yet hold them very dear. I am now inspired to reread them from the perspective of a 53-year-old.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't get into it Jan. 30 2014
By Irene
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Somehow it didn't grab me. I didn't finish it. I was disappointed . Maybe one day I will go back to it and give it another chance.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating Dec 26 2009
An amazing read. The characters are so well developed that you feel the change in the characters as time progresses, and as they grow older. Morag will stay with me for a long time. Very compelling, and moving. Its real, its human.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a Canadian classic June 5 2004
There are some spicy sex scenes, but it's hard to believe that this novel was called pornography when it was first published in 1974. Margaret Laurence got all kinds of praise and hate mail because of it, as well as disapproval from members of her congregation and people who knew her back home for writing "such stuff".
This story is a young prairie girl's search for real love, and in Morag Gunn we have the perfectly well-drawn believable figure of the independent young woman who defeats the odds and achieves the life she wants thanks to her strength of courage and perseverance. (...)
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5.0 out of 5 stars All Canadian Women Should Read This Book May 17 2003
By Melanie
I've read this book twice and I enjoyed it even more the second time. The characters are complex and interesting and their lives take unexpected twists and turns, making the story very realistic and very fascinating. The development of the storyline is such that you feel as if you are on the same journey as the characters, as the reader can't help to be emotionally connected to the little town and the main characters.
Laurence is a brilliant writer and this is her best work -- which is a big compliment since her other novels are incredible too.
I highly recommend this book, and especially to other Canadian women who will love Morag Gunn and relate to her life as a woman in Canada.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Canadian Literature at its best Dec 3 2002
The Diviners is one book that I could not put down! The present and past are intermingled in a heart rending story of love, fear, confusion and the struggle to find ones identity. Laurence is a master of protraying the abiguity of Canada. Morag Gunn is herself, a figure of ambiguity, and throughout the novel is faced with the dilemmas af her nation. A true insight into the life of a small town girl, struggling with the limitations forced upon her. An unforgettable piece of literature and one that Canadians should be proud of.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Literary Analysis: The Diviners May 6 2001
Margaret Laurence's novel, The Diviners, achieves a stark sense of reality through the use of tone and diction. Margaret Laurence draws from her own background to create the unique sense of style that is perceived when reading her novel. Through the use of her background information, her novel has the impression of being more real, something that one can relate too, much easier than of a novel of pure fiction. Tone and diction play a major role in any writer's novels, but is how they are used that makes the difference. In The Diviners, the tone and diction are satirical, which create the stark sense of reality needed to make this novel work as a whole. For instance, Morag, the main character, who also is a novelist, sets the tone of the novel, by instantly badgering at the way she cannot accurately describe the river, "its surface wrinkled by the breeze. Naturally, the river wasn't wrinkled or creased at all-wrong words, implying something unfluid like skin, something unenduring, prey to age," (4). Satire is chiefly implied by the way Morag immediately contradicts herself. Or though her use of diction, satire can be found in the way Morag depicts a close companion, Maudie, " A wonder she didn't sew by hand with needle, thread and tiny silver thimble. At night. By coal-oil lamp." (45). Morag appears to be mocking Maudie's way of getting things done. The diction in Morag's way of thinking is also satirical, "Women working like horses. Also pregnant most of the time. Baking bread in brick ovens, with a loaf in their own ovens. Looking after broods of chickens and kids. Terrible. Appalling." (77). Morag is reflecting upon the hardships of the women of the pioneer age and how hard their life was compared to hers, and if they could survive all that, then she too can survive. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars All Canadian Women Should Read This Book
I've read this book twice and I enjoyed it even more the second time. The characters are complex and interesting and their lives take unexpected twists and turns, making the story... Read more
Published on April 2 2003 by Melanie
4.0 out of 5 stars Literary Analysis: The Diviners
Margaret Laurence's novel, The Diviners, achieves a stark sense of reality through the use of tone and diction. Read more
Published on May 6 2001 by Lisa Poling
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book just like its author
Well, this is a great book and you gotta read it to know why. I had to read it in the last year of high school, this year. It started off like a pretty boring book. Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2000 by Mo
5.0 out of 5 stars So good, I've now read it twice
This book remains, to me, as one of the top-five books ever written by a Canadian, and probably the most beautiful book written about the prairies. Read more
Published on June 11 2000 by J. Gifford
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good
I'm a high school student in Canada who choose to read this book with the suggestion of my English teacher. I enjoyed the book and and all the different literary techniques used. Read more
Published on April 30 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars The Diviners
Laurence was able to create characters of great depth, all diverse in their personality traits. Morag Gunn carries the story through reflection of her life, skipping back and... Read more
Published on April 9 2000
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