I loved this book in the Extraordinary Canadian series, which I am working my through in order enrich my understanding of Canadian history, and therefI loved this book in the Extraordinary Canadian series, which I am working my through in order enrich my understanding of Canadian history, and therefore my history.
Emily Carr is a name I was familiar with, growing up in Alberta and making regular excursions to Canada's west coast in B.C. But I was not familiar with her art or her personal story.
This book shared both (though there were no copies of her artwork in the book, I had to google those).
In reading this book there was much that intrigued me about Emily Carr, namely her unconventional life and her courage to be an adventurer, traveler, an unmarried artist and writer at a time when women married, had babies and kept home as careers. I was inspired by her commitment to lifelong learning and the dedication to her craft.
But what spoke to me most, as 40 year old writer living in the 21st century, in an age that idolizes youth, and craves/seeks/celebrates the overnight success (or appearance thereof) of internet publishing and career bloggers, was the steady build and later-in-life blooming of Carr's career, as a painter and writer.
I am not a painter, but I have artistic inspiration and nascent vision for the creative work I want to do, and I experience the usual frustration of a busy (homeschooling) mother, that I don't have the time I want, the time I need to devote to my craft.
Stories like Emily's remind me that often great creative works, and her case what many describe as genius, come later in life. That life must be lived more fully before we reach our creative potential, something we easily forget in the internet-age in which we live in. As the biographer Lewis DeSoto writes in this book, of Ms Carr in her late 50s and early 60s, "All the threads of a lifetime would come together - the landscapes, the modernist palette and styles, the Indian motifs, the desire to make a Canadian art, her spirituality - all of it synthesized in paintings of intensity and power."
This book was great introduction for me to the person of Emily Carr and an excellent reminder that sometimes our best creative work is done when we've lived long enough for all the threads of a lifetime to come together. ...more
My mom recommended this book to me, knowing I love quirky memoirs, and this definitely filled the bill. The author's family has a unique history of beMy mom recommended this book to me, knowing I love quirky memoirs, and this definitely filled the bill. The author's family has a unique history of being in places of influence, or intrigue, during key events of the 19th and 20th century. The story isn't hugely about that but it does come up. The main story is about a 60 (something) woman getting to know and appreciate her mother better as she goes through her childhood home following her mother's death. I enjoyed it a lot. I like that it's a Canadian story (and British & American)....more
This is a beautiful memoir. So many reviews tell the story of this memoir, so I won't. But what I will say is that the love/marriage/family life thatThis is a beautiful memoir. So many reviews tell the story of this memoir, so I won't. But what I will say is that the love/marriage/family life that the author shared with her husband is almost fairy tale. Their love was so beautiful and their life together so golden, and I'm not sure if that's because she's looking back and remembers it only that way, or if it truly was that way. Certainly the years before their marriage and family life were not without suffering and struggle. (The author's husband was an Eritrean refuge.)
Perhaps it's just that she doesn't want to share the disappointments and difficulties of marriage in this book, only the intimacy and connection, as this book is a tribute to her husband. Or maybe she hadn't reached that point yet in her 15 year relationship. Or maybe she really did have a marriage that was a perfect fit of temperament, values and vision.
It doesn't really matter if her story is true-true or remembered-true. It is the story that Alexander tells and it is beautiful and extraordinary. But it might stir up a wee bit of discontent, at least it did for me, about your own (beautiful and ordinary) marriage after reading her accounts of marriage. ...more