An Audience of Chairs

by Joan Clark | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0676976565 Global Overview for this book
Registered by winggypsysmomwing of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on 10/29/2011
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by winggypsysmomwing from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Saturday, October 29, 2011
My favourite Used Book Store, Aqua Books, is downsizing and all the books in the store are half price. I've gone a few times in the past few weeks and on one of those trips I picked up this book. I've loved other books by Joan Clark and this one was picked as a Globe and Mail Best Book in 2005. As an additional reason to buy it, the book design was by CS Richardson who is the best book designer that I know.

Journal Entry 2 by winggypsysmomwing at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Moranna MacKenzie is a brilliant, creative woman who also suffers from a mental illness that is probably manic depression (now called bipolar disorder). She lives in an old farmhouse in Baddeck, Nova Scotia where she carves wooden figures to sell to the tourists who take the Cabot Trail right in front of her house. Some mornings it would be easier to stay in bed but she has developed a system that gets her up. One of those things is to play the piano board for an audience of chairs. She doesn't want to take medication because she fears losing her creative impulses and so she has developed coping mechanisms. They don't always work and lots of people in the small town of Baddeck call her crazy. Fortunately, Moranna has a few guardian angels who are prepared to accept her as she is and provide support. One of those is her lover, Bun, who lives with her when the ferries between Cape Breton and Newfoundland are not running. Another is her brother who manages her finances and runs interference when Moranna goes too far.

Over 30 years ago, during a manic episode, Moranna left her two daughters and their cousin on an island in Bras d'Or. Her husband, a journalist, was in Moscow at the time and Moranna was left to look after the girls with only the part-time assistance of a neighbour girl. Moranna knew what she did was wrong and took to her bed while her father and stepmother looked after the children. A local doctor suggested treatment in the Nova Scotia asylum so Moranna was packed off there while her in-laws took the children. That was the last time Moranna saw the girls and she has thought of them ever since.

Then, by chance, she sees an interview with her daughter, now a renowned scientist. She learns the daughter will be in Halifax to get married and she is determined to contact her. It could go so wrong but Moranna knows she has to make the effort.

I found Moranna a complex and engaging character. She would probably be hard to handle in real life but if one made the effort, as Bun and her neighbour, Lottie, and others did, she would be interesting to have around. I found it fascinating to get this glimpse into the mind of someone with manic depression. Joan Clark has said she learned most of what she knows about the illness by observation but she has also said she is "always vulnerable to the emotional weather of the characters in my novels". So I think she, to some extent, became a person with those highs and lows.

This appears to be the last book Joan Clark has written. She is now 79 years old so maybe she has retired. Or maybe she is working on something and the literary world has something to look forward to. I hope that is the case.

Journal Entry 3 by Matty at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Thursday, December 12, 2013
I picked this up at a monthly bookcrossers' meeting. It looks like a perfect candidate for the Canada Day release challenge!

Journal Entry 4 by Matty at Borda d'Agua Bar in Fuseta, Faro Portugal on Sunday, June 26, 2016

Released 3 yrs ago (6/26/2016 UTC) at Borda d'Agua Bar in Fuseta, Faro Portugal


I have released this book as part of the Canada Day release challenge 2016.

I hope it will find a new reader!

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