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The Fire-Dwellers (Manawaka Sequence)

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  882 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Convinced that life has more to offer than the tedious routine of her days, Stacey MacAindra yearns to recover some of the passion of her early romance. In this extraordinary novel, Margaret Laurence has given us yet another unforgettable heroine: smart, witty, but overwhelmed by the responsibilities of raising four children and trying to love her overworked husband. The F ...more
Paperback, 282 pages
Published November 15th 1993 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1969)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,384)
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Janice
I remember one particular camping trip we took as a family. I don't remember how old I was - probably pre-teens at any rate. It was after dinner and my father and brother were going fishing. I wanted to go fishing with them too, but I had to stay behind and help my mother with the dishes and putting things away. It was a pivotal moment in my life and I distinctly remember thinking, "If this is what it means to be a woman, I don't want any part of it!"

The fantastic Canadian author, Margaret Laur
...more
Krista
Ladybird, ladybird,
Fly away home;
Your house is on fire,
Your children are gone.


So begins The Fire-Dwellers, with Stacey MacAindra, formerly of Manawaka, Manitoba, now a suburban Vancouver housewife and mother of four, nearly 40, torn between flying away and flying home; dwelling in the fires there until her children need her no more. I read this book for the first time when my eldest daughter was first born, and although I didn't feel trapped in suburban ennui, I could recognise the truth of Stac
...more
Pooker
It is rare for me to read a book a second time. There are too many more to be read. Newer and sparklier. But of course there will not be any more new and sparkly books from this author and that makes me sad. I discovered Margaret Laurence at the same time as I discovered Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood. In the late sixties and early seventies I gobbled down everything they had written up to that point. What glorious gluttony! I've continued to read my faves and it gave me heart palpitations when ...more
Jasreet Badyal
This was exceptionally well-written. I was superbly impressed with the skillfulness of Laurence's creation of characters and the depth of personality that she created.

At the core of it, it was about the difficulty of relating to others, expressing ourselves, and the sensation of being trapped in your head. Despite being in a totally different life situation from the protagonist, I found her challenges absolutely relatable and, in some ways, I felt like I understood my own mother better.

I also ap
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Anna
Another beautiful offering from Laurence. A subject that is a bit beyond me, the idea of being (maybe and probably unhappily) married, life with kids, life as a 39-year-old woman. And yet, a book written so that I could kind of grasp what that life is like. Which is the sign of a good book. Some devastatingly beautiful lines in here, the theme of fire burning deep in the belly (and the loins) and baptism by fire and being thrown into the fire and hardened by fire. This book is a testament to the ...more
Daniel Kukwa
A novel that must have made quite a sensation on first release, capturing with amazing detail the dawn of post-60s women's liberation and questioning the position of homemaker, housewife, and mother in the suburbs of modern city life. In fact, the label "contemporary" wouldn't have done it enough justice, even for 1969. Reading it now, it's a remarkable historical artifact that maintains its power in spite of so much time having passed, and the monumental changes that have occurred in society. T ...more
Tanya
Though I found this book a little hard to read with the unusual dialogue and writing format, I still greatly enjoyed this story of a fearful and trapped 60s housewife. I found the subject matter quite racy for the time it was written but I could identify with many of Stacey's fears and thoughts and ideas. Being a stay at home mom myself, I appreciated the honesty that she expressed towards the care she gave her kids and how she sometimes felt trapped but still worried about them so immensely. I ...more
Veronica
This was a bit slow to get going, but in the end I liked it. The style is slightly offputting to start with -- it's Stacey's internal monologue, interspersed with speech. But you get used to it, and it's an effective way of getting inside Stacey's head. The paperback publisher did Laurence a disservice again, as with A Jest of God: "The poignant novel of a woman searching desperately for new love". That's not what it's about. The book was published in 1969, and Stacey is the embodiment of the "p ...more
Rob
Canadian literature has seemed, at least to me, haunted by the reputations of the two Margarets, Atwood and Laurence. When I was younger I avoided their books like the plague. I had dim impressions of serious, dour stories about Native girls in small town Manitoba where nothing interesting ever happens. As a teenager I would much rather take refuge in the thick arms of swords-and-sorcery tomes.

Older and wiser, or so I like to think, I finally got around to actually reading a Margaret Laurence bo
...more
Deanna McFadden
My love for Laurence knows no bounds--but it's really only based on a small part of her writing--A Bird in the House and The Diviners, which are among my favourites in Canadian literature. So, having never read The Fire-Dwellers, I was pleased it was my book club pick for this month. No bookstores around me carried the novel, and I found it a bit hard to get used to in ebook format, simply because it's a very stream of conscience-esque book that uses punctuation to pivot your attention between d ...more
Frank De
This was OK, but I thought the first two books were stronger as far as story and characters go.
But I will go for the 4th and last novel in this series! The first 2 gave so much reading pleasure!! :)
Karen Ferguson
Stacey is someone from a different time but feelings and worries make her seem like it could be today. I feel I know her after reading this book.
Sara
Very insightful with the stream of consciousness found in the main character's life as a mother.
Colin
Some adult content. A Margaret Laurence novel that I am rereading before my exam on Thursday. The book was written in 1969, at which time I was the same age as Stacey's youngest boy. Reminds me a lot of my childhood except that my parents were not quite as angst-ridden as Stacey and her husband (at least I don't think so)! I remember nearly drowning at the University of Manitoba pool - much like Duncan in the novel. I am sure that my mother was pretty freaked out in much the same way that Stacey ...more
Sandra
A reread...the character of Stacey becomes more and more compelling as the book progresses. I hadn't remembered the connections between The Fire Dwellers and A Jest of God and The Stone Angel: impressive writing. At one point all the diffeent narrative techniques became problematic until I realized that I simply wasn't paying close enough attention - Laurence obviously expected a reader to do her share! I am now inspired to reread the others in the Manawaka series.
Jenn
Always worth a re-read, although as I get older and have more kids my perspective shifts on the themes in the book. As usual I finish this book feeling glad I'm Gen-X. Laurence's sense of voice in this novel comes through strongly with the breaths and gasps and oppressive sense of the mundane. Stacey's choices stumble along, like her behaviour at parties on Valium and booze and yet you stay on her side.
Jenny
This book was more experimental in technique than The Stone Angel or A Jest of God. It contains mostly narration -- some of it between characters, some of it internal monologue, and some fanciful meanderings. The main character, Stacy, is a housewife and mother of four children who is not quite satisfied with her life and not quite sure of herself.
Carol
This is another book by Margaret Lawrence that I read a long time ago and do not remember the story line except that I liked it the first time around. We have two copies of this book too and fortunately my copy is a discard from the library which means it is just ripe for marking it up as my own!
Serena Janes
Some people get sick of being stuck inside the head of a neurotic housewife. But Laurence does such a good job of keeping us there. Beautiful, completely realistic story of domestic malaise and disappointment. My kind of read.
Rennie
You definitely could feel Stacey's pain and loneliness. The style both contributed and detracted but overall it was an interesting depiction of life at that time in general and for the main character at 40.
Jennifer
I have read a few other Margaret Laurence books and have enjoyed them. They never seem to be a book that you can't put down but there is a familiar quality about the life of these "normal people"
Margo Bates
This is my all-time favourite of Margaret Laurence. Read it and The Fire Dwellers in the summer of 1969 ... overwhelmingly the best reads of the year.
Kailin
you can feel the struggles of this main character, even if you are not from her generation.
Lisa
I loved Margaret Lawrence's Manawaka novels, but this one fell oddly flat beside the others...
Denise Cameron
Slow start, but a good ending. Looking forward to reading more of Laurence's work.
Sarah
Aug 10, 2011 Sarah added it
Margaret Laurence's answer to Ethel Wilson's "Swamp Angel"??? Uncanny really.
Stephanie
Lu la version français : Ta maison est en feu.
Rebecca
Found this dark and depressing
Jess
Beautiful and stunning so far.
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Margaret Laurence was born Jean Margaret Wemyss on July 18, 1926 in the prairie town of Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada. Both of her parents passed away in her childhood, and Laurence was raised by her aunt and maternal grandfather.

Laurence decided in childhood that she wanted to be a writer, and began writing stories in elementary school. Her professional writing career began in 1943 with a job at the
...more
More about Margaret Laurence...

Other Books in the Series

Manawaka Sequence (5 books)
  • The Stone Angel
  • A Jest of God
  • A Bird in the House
  • The Diviners
The Stone Angel The Diviners A Jest of God A Bird in the House This Side Jordan

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“What goes on inside isn't ever the same as what goes on outside.” 29 likes
“Everything drifts. Everything is slowly swirling, philosophies tangled with the grocery lists, unreal-real anxieties like rose thorns waiting to tear the uncertain flesh, nonentities of thoughts floating like plankton, green and orange particles, seaweed -- lots of that, dark purple and waving, sharks with fins like cutlasses, herself held underwater by her hair, snared around auburn-rusted anchor chains.” 4 likes
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