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An Audience of Chairs

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  468 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Like beauty, madness altered perception, but instead of offering illusion, it offered delusion. Moranna leaned the tricks madness played on perception the hard way as experience showed her how persuasively madness distorted reality. Experience also showed her that if she hung on long enough, the panic would subside and the delusions would pass. There were many dawns on the ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Vintage Canada (first published August 30th 2005)
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Anne of the Island by L.M. MontgomeryThe Birth House by Ami McKayAn Audience of Chairs by Joan ClarkFall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonaldThe Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
Nova Scotia
3rd out of 81 books — 30 voters
My Name Is Rapunzel by K.C. HiltonEtiquette & Espionage by Gail CarrigerMy Lady Jane by Brodi AshtonJericho by Ann McManA Walking Tour of the Shambles by Neil Gaiman
Books You Wish Your Library Had that They Don't
274th out of 299 books — 17 voters

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Community Reviews

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Moranna "Mad Mory" MacKenzie -- a middle-aged woman of "freewheeling aplomb" who lives alone in a deteriorating farmhouse outside a small village on Cape Breton Island -- reveals her nature (and the situation in which she finds herself) by small increments in An Audience of Chairs:

She has nothing but contempt for those who try to categorize what they think she is, and lecturing her audience of chairs, she'll say, "It's ridiculous for the so-called experts to think they can label me as bipolar o
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Terri Durling
I loved this book and just about everything about it. It captivated me and I wanted very much to find out the protagonist, Moranna's destination and how she got there. The beginning and ending were perfect "Picture a woman ..." showing her at two stages of her very complex life. She epitomized "eccentric" and I really did like Moranna despite all her flaws. In fact, this book for me was a real look into the life of a mentally ill person - a front row seat if you will in the "audience of chairs" ...more
PEI Public Library Service
In "An Audience of Chairs" Joan Clark tells the story of Moranna MacKenzie. The reader is first introduced to Moranna as an older woman struggling with mental illness and living alone in her family farm house in Cape Breton. She's visited by her brother Murdoch, her neighbour Lottie, and her lover Bun, but spends most of her time alone with her own thoughts and memories. Clark goes on to tell the story of a young, beautiful, and impetuous Moranna falling in love, having children, and ultimately ...more
I really likes this book. It was completely absorbing. It was a very interesting take on mental illness. I liked then authors writing style and thoughts he did a great job of character development. I found myself so personally invested in Moranna's mental stability and her desire and longing to see her daughters that I literally had knots in my stomach for her when she went to her daughters wedding uninvited. I think that is the mark of a great author when you physically feel the emotions she is ...more
This is the story of a woman who lives alone in a farm house in Cape Breton. She is a misfit in the community, due to her mental illness. We see how she has struggled all her life with depression and a warped sense of reality. Many of the scenes described in the book made me a bit uncomfortable. I didn't find the weird things Moranna did to be hilarious, but very sad.

Moranna's brother was a big, selfish bloke who didn't consider her illness in his treatment of her. Her two little girls were sud
Cathy Graham
I really enjoyed this book and thought the character of Moranna was so well depicted. Joan Clark did a good job showing her as a sympathetic character who struggled with her manic depression. She was very real to me with her artistic temperament and ups and downs.

I enjoyed the setting of Cape Breton as I was on vacation there at the time so was able to fully appreciate and relate to the descriptions of the land and the people.
This book, set in Nova Scotia, tells the story of Moranna MacKenzie, a manic depressive. Moranna's life has had its ups and downs; a failed marriage, the loss of two children and numerous complications from her mental illness. All in all, I found this book to be very powerful and riveting. It's one of the best depictions of manic depression ever depicted in fiction. Moranna is unbelievably human and three dimensional.
I loved this book. The characters were very real, I came to really know them. The depiction of mental illness is very realistic - not sure where the author did her research. It portrayed the illness without making it something scary or to be pitied. A very strong female character. A very funny book, too.
Sarah Lawson
Amazing novel. Based on truth. I can relate very much because I live in the same area that Miranna lived. I have mental illness & can relate in this way too. I know the real people of this story as well. Again amazing read. Please read...
I just love Joan Clark's style! I could read anything written by her. She can make me feel so absorbed in a story that I can forget everything else!
Mike Joanne
The story of mental illness and its tragic effects through three generations is heartbreaking. Through the years of Moranna's sad life, the author creates characters with mania, independence, intelligence, guilt, and/or compassion. There's a variety of "help" offered to Moranna, mental institution, drugs,empathy, and meditation. Nothing that seems to help her as much as her wood carving, and the support of her brother, boyfriend, and local police. I enjoyed the Maritime setting. I would have lik ...more
John Hanson
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An excellent and intriguing novel about Moranna, a mentally ill woman living alone in an old farmhouse in Cape Breton.

After losing her husband and two young daughters from a mistake she made, Moranna builds a life for herself. Taunted by people of the town for her rude outbursts and the weird clothing she wears, the townsfolk have nicknamed her 'Mad Mory'. Moranna fights to keep herself on an even keel and paces her feelings of high's and lo's. Moranna begins carving, what she thinks, are her lo
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I seem to be reading a lot about women who have some form of mental illness or other (and, frankly, need to snap out of it for a while). this one is by an author that is new to me. The lead character is a semi-functioning manic-depressive in the far eastern region of Canada who is from a long line of Scottish folk. Far from being a wrenching story of the agony of mental illness, this is the story of a strong-willed woman who refuses to let the illness define her as she fights fights, no lives, t ...more
Pauline Macleod
I cant put this book down. It is bringing me deep into the mind and motivations of a woman born with hereditary mental illness and I"m fascinated by the events of her life. There are several people who have struggled with mental illness in my family and it is helping me to understand them a bit better and to put some of the events of the past in context. Beautifully written, very sensitive and insightful and also entertaining. The fact that it is set in Cape Breton and that the main characters a ...more
I adored this book. Loved the rich characters, the maritime environment and Moranna MacKenzie's lifelong struggle with mental illness. Such a beautifully crafted book - both plot and character driven.
This is the story of a woman with a mental illness. The story is well crafted and moves between the past and the present seamlessly. As a reader, your emotions are constantly being tugged at and as a mother, it is heartbreaking. It did have parts that seemed to drag on and some sections that I felt were a little unnecessary, but as a whole, I liked the book and the writing.
Although I expect this will be a book I like better in remembering, it did bring tears to my eyes just before the final page.
Good Book Book Club.
Bi-polar - ramifications
Christine Rausch
Beautifully written novel about mental illness.
Picture this: the first paragraph hooked me instantly and never let me go until the final paragraph (another "Picture this"). I instantly recognized the novel's unlikely heroine (uncomfortably at times) and read though the pages impatient for the parallel past and present to unite. This book made me laugh and weep, sometimes simultaneously and the heroine's inner resilience and strength took me from pity to pride. It has changed how I see myself and others and I think that is as much as any book ...more
The life of one woman, Moranna. Like her mother before her, she is mentally ill and loses her husband and children because she had absentmindedly left the children on an island all alone and lost track of time. When the children are gone, her life begins to unravel even more.

The story is told with great skill in describing a person with a mental illness such as bipolar and paranoia.

The book stalled somewhere in the middle, but I'm glad that I stuck with it to the end. It was well worth the read
Moranna is a manic depressive living in Nova Scotia. Her two young daughters bonnie and Brianna were taken away from her in their early childhood because Moranna’s mind kept escaping. The book tells of how she fell ill and then struggled over many years to oversome that, and eventually re-runite with her long lost duaghters as they approach middle-age.
Clark’s style is deceptively simple. She simultaneously brings us into Moranna’s mind, while we watch her from outside and see the devastating eff
Tammy Lee
A good story from a Canadian author I was not familiar with, but will be looking to read more of. The book tells the story of a woman, who has spent her life struggling with mental illness, living alone in her family farmhouse in the Maritimes. Her relationships with family and friends are both complex and lacking, and through the telling, the story sheds light on the complications and implications of those families who face mental illness, and their choices in how they deal with it. A good read ...more
I liked this book because it takes place in Cape Breton and Halifax. It was fun to read about places that I have recently visited. The story pulled me in - a young woman who struggles with mental illness and severe depression. The writing sometimes came across as frazzled, but then I wondered if that was keeping with the nature of the main character's mental illness. A quick read; a good story.
A really interesting story told from the perspective of a bi-polar, manic woman living mostly in Nova Scotia. I've read another of Joan Clark's book but didnt' realize she was a Nova Scotian. Really well crafted story with enough plot and description to keep you interested and definitely not sappy. I'd recommend it.
I loved this book about a bipolar woman living in the Maritimes. I grew to like her more and more as the book went on. There is no indication where the author did her research but it is very convincing that she understood her subject and made me feel such empathy for the difficult life she led.
Exquisitely written, one of the most memorable novels I have read. Moranna is a tortured yet determined character, drifting through memories, looking for validation in the midst of living with the cruelty of mania and depression, facing life if she won't bend, with only "an audience of chairs".
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Joan Clark BA, D.Litt (hon.) (née MacDonald)is a Canadian fiction author.

Born in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Clark spent her youth in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. She attended Acadia University for its drama program, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree with English maj
More about Joan Clark...
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