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This first of the five "Manawaka novels" (set in the fictional prairie town of Manawaka), the story of Hagar Shipley -- whose rigid pride costs her everything she loves -- has been taught in high school curricula in Canada for over twenty-five years and has never gone out of print. As the novel opens, the 90-year-old Hagar discovers that her middle-aged...
This first of the five "Manawaka novels" (set in the fictional prairie town of Manawaka), the story of Hagar Shipley -- whose rigid pride costs her everything she loves -- has been taught in high school curricula in Canada for over twenty-five years and has never gone out of print. As the novel opens, the 90-year-old Hagar discovers that her middle-aged son Marvin and his fussy wife Doris intend to place her in a nursing home. Determined not to bend to anyone else's will, she ponders the circuitous path that has led her to the house she shares with them in Vancouver and plots her escape, ultimately spending a wild, hallucinatory night in a deserted canning factory. The motherless daughter of a stern, wealthy storekeeper, Hagar had been schooled in pride and contempt from early childhood. When, on a stubborn whim, she married a rough farmer 14 years her senior, her father disowned her and she and her family gradually descended into bitter poverty. Hagar waged a fierce domestic war with her hard-drinking husband Bram and closed her heart to her first-born son Marvin, giving all her attention to her youngest son John, who she mistakenly saw as meant for better things. She left Bram to settle in Vancouver with John but eventually followed her grown son home to Manawaka where she meddled tragically in his happiness. Only at the end of her life does she realize how much she is like the sightless stone angel that her father erected above her mother's grave.
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