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The Stubborn Season [Hardcover]

Lauren B. Davis
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 25 2002
A haunting portrayal of a family, a city and a country in the midst of the Great Depression, The Stubborn Season revolves around the MacNeils, a working-class Toronto family facing their own collapse. Irene, the MacNeils' daughter, finds herself consumed by her mother's increasingly erratic moods and her father's growing alcoholism. Yet in the midst of lives on the brink, Irene finds strength in the unlikely form of David, young Jewish man fighting his own battle for dignity, hope and a place in the world.

The Stubborn Season is a compelling novel, peopled with authentic characters who radiate from every page, and a sense of place captured in the claustrophobic darkness of a Victorian row house and the smell of fear in a jail packed with Communist agitators. A novel of human strengths and frailties, this is a wonderfully satisfying read.

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"...well researched and crisply written...Davis's talent is unmistakable... she evokes with harrowing precision. ... Margaret is one of the most memorable characters I have encountered in contemporary Canadian fiction... inspiring...Davis's portrayal of Depression survivors shows the human spirit can be amazingly strong and resilient." -- National Post - June 8, 2002

"A GLEAMING DEBUT . . . a terrific first novel . . . compelling social history. . . Davis superbly registers the sly skills young Irene develops in order to navigate her treacherous existence. . . Davis turn[s] a discerning lens upon Canadians. . . This is a wonderful novel. . . every character is sincerely drawn; these sentences just gleam. THE STUBBORN SEASON is one of those rare novels I look forward to reading again." -- The Toronto Star

"A fine novel in the great Canadian storytelling tradition . . . authentic, compelling and deep. . . . tremendously evocative. A real literary achievement." -- The Paris Voice

"Davis paints a striking picture... It is the juxtaposition of the two lives, Irene's and David's, that makes The Stubborn Season a compelling chronicle. This, combined with the author's sense of historical and domestic detail, gives the novel a sound framework. Davis [is] adept at creating atmosphere...a vivid re-telling of a smouldering time... a serious, moving and well-written book." -- London Free Press - June 22, 2002

"Davis' portrayal of her [Margaret's] descent into madness is particularly moving. It's a tall order for one novel, a very ambitious undertaking for Davis. The story stays tight, with all of the subplots fully played out without detracting from the novel's main focus. Indeed, this is Irene's story, one of triumph and maturity during a time period that did not offer a woman very many options, and in a family situation that offered her even less. The way that she deals with the challenges in her life demonstrates a character of strength and inspiration in any era, while the setting against the backdrop of the 1930's combined with the other themes of political unrest and anti-Semitism make for a novel that also captures a piece of history for contemporary eyes." --

"Lauren B. Davis’s THE STUBBORN SEASON ranges through a wide landscape of history and intimacy, thwarted private dreams and public oppression. . . a skilful weaving of emotion and event.. . . poignant and well-crafted. Best of all is how Davis brings together the different events that had a long-range impact on every Canadian...this novel succeeds as a compassionate portrait of a country sharing a struggle. . . [The Stubborn Season is] an epiphanic hourglass for the harsh dust that trickled through one of the worst of times." -- The Globe & Mail - May 11, 2002

"Lauren Davis's debut novel, THE STUBBORN SEASON, is as close as you'd want to get to the Depression without being there. ... meticulous research informs everything... The writing is clean, direct, and efficient ... Remarkably, in spite of such dire circumstances, Davis makes us believe that the following generation can come through the Depression with little damage, still trusting and resourceful, and stronger for having lived through this grim, stubborn season." -- Quill & Quire - June, 2002

"Not since Barry Broadfoot's TEN LOST YEARS has there been such a compelling portrait of Depression era Canada. . . . The writing is strong and sure-handed, the characters well drawn and memorable." -- Books in Canada

"VIBRANT PORTRAIT OF YOUNG WOMAN, FAMILY. Davis's writing is vivid. . . Her description of Irene's desire for fulfillment and love is particularly inspiring. . . THE STUBBORN SEASON is a vibrant portrait of a family. . . Davis is interested in the things that drive people, whether it be the need to find meaning in their lives or the need to find their true selves." -- Winnipeg Free Press - June 30, 2002

The Stubborn Season is precise, polished. . . bind[s] the attention through the excellence of its sharp, precise prose, generously laced with authentic history. Davis's astute psychological observations render the two main characters insistently real. . . . Irene has all our sympathy . . Her determination to survive the dual challenges of socio-economic disaster and incompetent parenting are positively inspirational. . . Davis explore[s] the cultural diversity of the country, exposing the bigotry and anti-Semitism of the day. . . While deftly balancing the personal and political, Davis refuses to succumb to the predictable. Her poetic flourishes are sparingly applied, to strong effect. . .All this makes for an exceptionally satisfying read. Like Mary Lawson's Crow Lake, The Stubborn Season raises the bar for first novels. Pat Donnelly -- The Montreal Gazette, July 27

From the Inside Flap

THE STUBBORN SEASON is a splendid achievement by an accomplished writer. Against the backdrop of the Depression and the beginnings of World War II, Lauren B. Davis presents vivid and convincing portraits of people struggling for dignity against the forces of economic repression and racial hatred, as well as their own inner demons. As a story of a young woman’s initiation into this world and her discovery of her own capacity for freedom, the novel is a celebration of those qualities and potentials that allow us to exist in a dark world." - Gladys Swan, author of Carnival for the Gods and Ghost Dance: A Play of Voices

"THE STUBBORN SEASON has the sting of authenticity. The writing is sharp as glass, the sorrow felt and the release on end, redemptive." - Barry Callaghan, author of The Barrelhouse Kings and Hogg, the Seven Last Words

"Lauren B. Davis creates a fresh picture of the commonness of despair and the tenacity of love. With astute compassion she prods her characters until they redeem themselves." - Wallis Wilde-Menozzi, author of Mother Tongue, An American Life in Italy

“A daughter, father, mother ’all mushed up in a little house’ whose walls echo and groan, close as skin, voices carrying through the air vents: Lauren B. Davis’s THE STUBBORN SEASON is a tale of personal madness reflected in the burgeoning madness of a world whipped by fascism, poverty, and inequity, told in language clear and sharp and true. Davis is a born writer. THE STUBBORN SEASON is a splendid debut novel: quietly terrifying, quietly liberating.” - Thomas E. Kennedy, Advisory Editor, THE LITERARYREVIEW; International Editor, STORY QUARTERLY; author of REALISM & OTHER ILLUSIONS: ESSAYS ON THE CRAFT OF FICTION and DRIVE, DIVE, DANCE & FIGHT: Stories

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo Ms. Davis July 26 2002
Every ten years or so a book comes along that is entertaining , informative , insightfull , and thought provoking . The books that come to mind are ANGELAS ASHES and THE SHIPPING NEWS . THE STUBBORN SEASON is such a book . It is historicaly and socialy informative through the characters complex interactions . Ms Davies is not a simple writer , she is a word artist of highest degree . Writers narrative , character dialogue , and the descriptive scene setting make this book a must for any reader concerned with justice , family , courage and our history .
Many books have been written about the GREAT DEPRESSION , few have been as informative as THE STUBBORN SEASON . The book deals with devastating social and economic upheavals and the hardships families had to endure ; not in a bleak downward spiral of a STEINBECK , but in a slow and balanced hopefulness of a MACORD .
BRAVO Ms. DAVIES . Awaiting with great anticipation your next offering . This is one book you won't find at a garage sale ! It's a keeper .
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Season for a Star! July 18 2002
Lauren B. Davis' novel, The Stubborn Season, gives an intimate look into the early 1930's depression in Canada through the eyes of a young girl whose world is trying to keep her family from falling apart. It is an illuminating personal look at alcoholism, mental illness, poverty and the committment of a child to protect her mother from self-destruction and her father from the physically and emotionally draining existence of no money and little or no hope. Her sacrifice and innocent attempts to curtail the drinking and chaos in her home while maintaining some sense of self is heartbreaking yet, the book ellicits from the reader a light of hope founded in the spirit of love and the courage of youth. Davis' descriptions are dramatically etched not only in the reader's mind but are felt in such a visceral way that the reader won't be able to put the the book down. Her dialogues are sweet and longing, blunt and course, sharp or worn with the weariness of their characters' fatigue and failure. This book has the same strength of impact that made A Tree Grows in Brooklyn pertinent fifty years ago and still pertinent today. - Deametrice Eyster
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Stubborn Season Sept. 5 2002
The Stubborn Season is a brilliant, hopeful novel about the strength of the human spirit. Set in Toronto during the Great Depression, the characters push and struggle not only within a society consumed in poverty and inequity, but also within their own stubborn seasons of the soul.
A young girl, Irene, raised by an alcoholic father and mentally-ill mother bravely pulls herself away from the bleakness and despair of her family, just as the country pulls itself from the ashes of the Depression. Ms. Davis uses history and intimacy, each reflecting the other, to give us a haunting coming-of-age portrait.
In the end, Ms. Davis assures us, we each of us are individuals, shaped by events and the people closest to us, but ultimately, with a character and a destiny uniquely our own.
Although this is ultimately Irene's story, the characters of the mother and father are created in such a way as to give the reader true insight into the emotional life of these tortured people. Ultimately, the reader empathizes with each, even as we cheer Irene in her attempts to break free.
Bravo! I look forward to reading more from this delightful author!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Praise For The Stubborn Season Sept. 6 2002
By Susan
Lauren Davis' book tells the story of a family and a nation coming of age during the Great Depression.Irene is a little girl struggling to find her own voice and her own truth while her mother, Margaret struggles to maintain her sanity. Margaret's world does not include change or any little shift in the wind that could threaten her balancing act. She needs her daughter and her husband to stay cocooned in their tiny little house.At the same time the farmers in the dust bowl that the prairies have become, are fighting to survive. Workers are fighting to be safe. Political activists are fighting for truth and dignity for everyone.
The great joy in reading this book was the honesty of all of the voices, particularily the ones that make the reader uncomfortable.The characters in this book are all in the end ordinary people faced with difficult choices. Sometimes they fail, but sometimes there are moments of grace that are breath taking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Stubborn Season Oct. 19 2011
By Nancy
The Stubborn Season by Lauren B Davis was a great book, I couldn't put it down. I can't wait to read her newest book, Our Daily Bread. I will be recommending her books to all my friends
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stubborn Season, Lauren B. Davis Sept. 19 2010
Irene's story is set in Toronto in the 1930's, amid The Depression, mental illness, alcoholism, and her intense isolation from society. The story unfolds to allow Irene freedom to become emancipated, and to experience growth as she becomes an adult. Ms. Davis utilizes beautiful sentences to carry the story forward. She illustrates intellectually using historic facts to give the characters a foundation on which to grow. It is a fantastic read, and one I will enjoy again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic book May 13 2010
The Stubborn Season is an engaging book that rivets you around the disappointments and
ultimate growth of the main character Irene. She watches like so many children do her parents like a
hawk and grapples with their flaws and then finds the resiliency to move forward. Yet you are still haunted
by the cost of wanting more from parents then what they can give and the love and loyalty with underlying betrayal makes it
a riveting tale of freedom.
I highly recommend.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Depression era novel
Very much enjoyed this Canadian novel written from the viewpoint of a daughter living in a dysfunctional family with
A mad mother and alcoholic father. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Mrs. Colleen M. Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful
The Stubborn Season is very well written and highly engaging. I loved both main characters, Irene and David. Read more
Published on Dec 24 2008 by lucinda
3.0 out of 5 stars Ms Davis and the altar of historical fiction
Toronto malaise, retrospective feedback narratives about alcohol and insomnia, prose as thin as the bacon they eat on every other page. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2008 by Fairweatherassult
5.0 out of 5 stars very moving
The characters and the story were so engaging I just couldn't put it down. A hugely satisfying read!
Published on Oct. 23 2007 by dan reynolds
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally Moving!!!
A very touching story… emotionally bond to the characters… very realistic descriptions of Toronto’s streets and buildings. A great read!
Published on Oct. 2 2002 by Mike
4.0 out of 5 stars The Stubborn Season
Lauren Davis' novel is a special treat for anyone who enjoys the exploration of complex mother-daughter and family relationships. Read more
Published on July 22 2002 by ,Susan Meltzer
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book - beautiful,powerful, hopeful
I loved this book. It is beautiful, sensitive, sad, but ultimately hopeful.
It is a great book because it succeeds on so many levels. Read more
Published on July 20 2002 by LAB
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