This gentle story is partially a coming-of-age and partly about interpersonal relationships.
Elaine is an artist who returns to Toronto for a retrospective of her work. Her art work is based on her life so in learning about her life, we have an idea and appreciation of what's behind her art.
The story is divided into parts with flashbacks into her childhood. Her early memories are of constantly moving and not having any real friends except for her brother. Things do stabilize when her father gets a job as a college professor.
When her family returned to Toronto Elaine began to have friends of her own. Cordellia dominated the group. She is a demanding person and often cruel but the other girls accept her. Elaine is vulnerable and accepts the verbal abuse from Cordelia. Eventually, she takes a stand but falls back into Cordellia's control.
Another girlfriend is Grace Smeath. Elaine is often at this girl's home for playtime or dinner. They have unusual rules such as only a certain number of tissues are permitted to use after going to the toilet. Mrs. Smeath is one of Elaine's favorite subjects in her art. She even has one of them where Mrs. Smeath is covered with tissues.
Elaine becomes fascinated with women's issues and attends women's only functions. She develops a deep interest in the Virgin Mary and many of her art pieces are based on her.
We learn of Elaine through her thoughts, her art, friendships and interests. Her first art teacher also became her lover and this developed some of Elaine's feelings.
I enjoyed this novel and felt that for a man, it gave me a little more insight into women, their feelings and thoughts.
Elaine Risley is an artist (although she prefers the term “painter”) who is about to be honored with a retrospective. After years in relative obscurity, her work will be shown in a major Toronto gallery. As she prepares the opening, she recalls her journey to becoming a painter. During World War II, Elaine and her family traveled across Canada as her father pursued a career as an entomologist. Elaine’s closest friend was her older brother Stephen, with whom she is homeschooled … more