River Reel, a novel published by Sumach Press in 2006.
Helen’s relationship with her mother has never been smooth. But now their roles are reversed, as Helen comes to her mother Annie’s home in Glengarry to care for her after a debilitating stroke.
Locked in an uneasy dance of give and take, both women journey into the past to try to make sense of who they have become.
In her rare hours of solitude by the river, Helen reflects on her exciting days of theatre school in London in the 1970s, her disastrous marriage and her fragile career in Canadian theatre.
Annie’s mind flows to her first days of freedom as a young woman in Montreal. But as she wanders further back in time to a life-changing decision, her revelations shake Helen’s sense of identity to the core.
River Reel explores our most common relationships and the nature of love between parents and children, and between lovers.
Laing renders the complexities of these relationships with tenderness, humour and sparks of insight.
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Praise for River Reel:
“The dialogue is convincing and realistic...River Reel is emotionally affecting.”
The Globe & Mail
“A rich story of two lives...told by a sensitive storyteller...a jewel.”
Ottawa Sunday Sun
Marble Season is a series of linked short stories published by Oberon Press in 1992.
Set in the 1950s in the East End of Montreal, the stories, told from a child’s point of view, explore the tensions between English and French.
Working class poverty and ignorance compound the distance between the Two Solitudes.
Alienated from other children by language and history, the characters in these stories fall back on the private worlds of their imagination to try to understand the prejudices they face and to forge their own identities.
Told with humour and drama, these stories of conflict are also about reconciliation, of what it means to be part of a community.
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Praise for Marble Season:
“Few experiences can match the thrill of leafing through a book by an unknown writer, slowly becoming engrossed and realizing that you have made a discovery. Bonnie Laing’s Marble Season is a discovery ....This collection of stories illuminates the divided, self-doubting heart of English Montreal with a compassionate but unsparing light....This sparkling book offers a remarkably perceptive and humorous X-ray of the Anglo-Quebec psyche.”
The Gazette, Montreal
“The reader is treated to incidents that churn up personal memories of acne, eating pop and chips on an upside down milk crate, shooting marbles which are kept in a purple Crown Royal pouch and being a teenager and getting to know your body all over again – ‘The land between girlhood and womanhood, between hope and experience’”
“Marble Season by Bonnie Laing is a remarkable first collection of short stories... Marble Season reads more like a slim novel about a female coming of age, recalling at its best Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women...This first collection of stories by Laing is a real pleasure to read: it is finely crafted, humorous and rich in emotional truths.”
“This is Laing’s strength – taking mundane details and working them into something larger, of greater significance. That strength makes this a fine collection.”