Hugely pregnant with her fourth child, Minn Burge, intelligent and frustrated mother of a four year-old girl and two year-old twins, prepares her vast but somewhat decrepit Toronto house for a party of film buffs and intellectuals. Her husband, Norman, is a foreign correspondent off on assignment in Katmandu--where, she believes, he is faithful, though surrounded by "amber and hairless women."

On the third floor of her Victorian home lives a small group of hippies. Against their lives and attitudes, she maps her own vagabond past, intimately connected to Europe and the much older but now deceased Honeyman, beatnik director of obscure films whose work is to celebrated that evening.

Through the lead up to and during the party, memories carry Minn back to vignettes of her home town origins, the strained relationship with her mother, the child-like goodness of cousin Annie (an adult trisomic), and the sexual awakening and loss she lived with Honeyman. Minn is tormented with the resentment and anger that she feels toward her husband and her much-loved babies--including the one in her belly--for the havoc they have brought upon her body and her mind.


A woman’s capacity for harming a child lurks comprehensibly just below the surface of this evocative narrative by a leading figure in feminist literature. In one of the many flashbacks, she refers to herself as the bit-part actress Elizabeth Borden; not Lizzie, of course, but we take the point.

Written in a poetic style, replete with borrowings and allusions to the works of writers, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Dylan Thomas, and Gertrude Stein, this semi-autobiographical, short novel recreates the thoughts and feelings of a pregnant woman with astounding candour. An original reviewer observed that it might be "too cruelly female for the tastes of the male reader." (Susan Swann, Toronto Telegram).



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