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In Ontario

Carol Shields, 7 February 1991

Friend of My Youth 
by Alice Munro.
Chatto, 273 pp., £13.99, October 1990, 0 7011 3663 4
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... The Canadian writer Alice Munro once likened a good short story to a commodious house whose every room possesses an exterior door. So accommodating a house, she wrote, is capable of admitting visitors through any number of openings, just as a story can be entered by way of its separate sections or paragraphs or even its individual sentences or words ...

Sunny side up

Penelope Fitzgerald, 9 September 1993

The Stone Diaries 
by Carol Shields.
Fourth Estate, 361 pp., £12.99, September 1993, 1 85702 154 1
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... then, which recalls the mermaid metaphors, ‘giving off the fishy perfume of ambiguity’ in Shields’s last novel, The Republic of Love. The present book is just as readable, but more disconcerting. The section headings – Birth, 1905; Child-hood, 1916; Marriage, 1927; Love, 1936; Motherhood, 1947; Work, 1955-64; Sorrow, 1965; Ease, 1977; Illness and ...

How to Be Good

Elaine Showalter: Carol Shields, 11 July 2002

Unless 
by Carol Shields.
Fourth Estate, 213 pp., £16.99, May 2002, 0 00 713770 2
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... agree that such transformations are a liberation, however. In her recent biography of Austen, Carol Shields was also writing about her own credo as a woman novelist whose subjects have been domestic, whose endings have been happy, and whose literary ambitions have been trivialised. First, she insists, ‘Austen’s short life may have been lived in ...

Heads and Hearts

Patrick Parrinder, 28 May 1992

Underworld 
by Peter Conrad.
Chatto, 252 pp., £14.99, April 1992, 0 7011 3895 5
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A Case of Curiosities 
by Allen Kurzweil.
Hamish Hamilton, 358 pp., £14.99, March 1992, 0 241 13235 5
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Rotten Times 
by Paul Micou.
Bantam, 266 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 593 02621 7
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The Republic of Love 
by Carol Shields.
Fourth Estate, 366 pp., £14.99, March 1992, 1 872180 88 4
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... Syndrome, brought on while he was shaving in an aircraft flying through a thunderstorm. Even Carol Shields’s The Republic of Love, by far the most mundane of these novels, starts off with a sentence that could easily have graced a Science Fiction magazine: ‘As a baby, Tom Avery had 27 mothers’. ‘It was the idea of the bodiless head ...

Among the quilters

Peter Campbell, 21 March 1991

Asya 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 313 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 7011 3509 3
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Health and Happiness 
by Diane Johnson.
Chatto, 260 pp., £13.99, January 1991, 0 7011 3597 2
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Happenstance 
by Carol Shields.
Fourth Estate, 388 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 1 872180 08 6
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... to it are so parochial, that it is hard to make a hero out of a professor with a moral problem. In Carol Shields’s Happenstance Jack Bowman, cornered in his job at an academic institute, living with his wife Brenda in the suburbs of Chicago, has to see his friend Bernie through marital troubles just when his own career seems threatened by the ...

Mary Swann’s Way

Danny Karlin, 27 September 1990

Jane Fairfax 
by Joan Aiken.
Gollancz, 252 pp., £12.95, September 1990, 0 575 04889 1
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Lady’s Maid 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 536 pp., £13.95, July 1990, 0 7011 3574 3
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Mary Swann 
by Carol Shields.
Fourth Estate, 313 pp., £12.99, August 1990, 1 872180 02 7
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... deploys here to make it otherwise. Mary Swann is the first book by the Canadian writer Carol Shields to be published in this country. This is a very good novel, alive in every sense: formally ingenious and inventive, strikingly evocative of place, of character, of the world of things, capable of both comedy and tenderness, and above all ...

Darling, are you mad?

Jenny Diski: Ghost-writing for Naim Attallah, 4 November 2004

Ghosting 
by Jennie Erdal.
Canongate, 270 pp., £14.99, November 2004, 1 84195 562 0
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... who you do it with.She spent a few days dipping into novels – Penelope Fitzgerald, Anne Tyler, Carol Shields, Beryl Bainbridge, William Trevor, Tim Parks among others – to limber up. Then she rolled up her sleeves and having extracted the technical nuts and bolts (beginning, middle, end; main and subsidiary plot and characters), wrote Naim ...

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