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The Diviners

(Manawaka Sequence)

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  6,740 ratings  ·  216 reviews
The culmination and completion of Margaret Laurence’s celebrated Manawaka cycle, The Diviners is an epic novel.

This is the powerful story of an independent woman who refuses to abandon her search for love. For Morag Gunn, growing up in a small Canadian prairie town is a toughening process – putting distance between herself and a world that wanted no part of her. But in tim
Paperback, 494 pages
Published October 1st 1988 by Mcclelland & Stewart (first published 1974)
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4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,740 ratings  ·  216 reviews

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Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are some things that enrich my life beyond all expectation or proportion: baths, bike rides, sex, and let me say it now: Margaret Laurence. I’ve long suspected she might be my favourite author (despite my discomfort with A Jest of God, I loved the book; The Stone Angel is near perfect in its characterization of Hagar), but on (re)reading The Diviners I’m ready to settle the matter: Margaret Laurence is my favourite.

I don’t mean to suggest she’s the best author out there (let’s leave conver
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008-2012) and 501 Must Read Books (Modern Fiction)
Feminist. Very strong female character in the person of Morag Gunn. Orphan at the age of four, she was taken into custody by the couple Christie and Prin Logan. Christie is the town's scavenger (garbage collector) and divining is scavenging. But don't get the notion that the female characters here are scavengers or loser. Morag rose from that sorry early years and made own life-altering decisions in her life so strong that she seems to have the biggest ball among the characters including her goo ...more
Nov 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: whoever's up to it
I haven't been much of a fan of Margaret Laurence's work in the past, mainly because I found many of her characters a little on the whiny side. And if there's one thing I refuse to do is spend substantial amounts of time with a whiner. But the fact is, Morag Gunn, heroine of The Diviners, grabbed me. Barring the brief period she spent spineless and married to the good professor, Morag's got balls. A lot of self-doubt inner-talk (who doesn't?) and balls. And, importantly, in a way that doesn't de ...more
Mikey B.
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, fiction
About mid-way through I decided that I had had enough. I was not engaged by this novel – most of it at that stage taking place in rural Manitoba and then Winnipeg, with a move to Toronto.

I found the characters were not pulling me into their lives, even the central character Morab. I got tired of reading settings of flowers and willow trees by the Red river. Sometimes the dialogue became trite and boring, more so when Morab swoons and falls head over heels in love with an academic literature prof
Feb 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadiana
I found this book in the back of a Salvation Army and flipped through it. I bought it entirely because I was interested in the sheet music at the back, and I had no intention of actually reading the book. But after reading the lyrics of the songs, I wanted to know who was Lazarus, King of Nothing? Who was Piquette? This book is raw. The characters are flawed. You can't help but absolutely inhale this story as you follow Morag's harsh and bitter and somehow innocent life. The themes and hidden me ...more
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-author
I am giving this book a rare 5 star review, partially because I had not expected to like it, and I loved it. If I was a writer, I think my style would be very similar to the writing in this book. I loved the "Memory Bank Movie" passages. It reminded me so much of several significant events in my own life, and I can vividly rember them. I think the characters in the book were depicted very realistically and believable, flaws and all. The book was written in the 1970's and I hope our society has e ...more
I read this when I was about 16, and Christy's "by their garbage shall ye know them" speech was life changing. Love this book. I've read it multiple times, but haven't re-read it in about 15 years. I should again.
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-bingo
An intelligent, slow read for me. I loved it. I don't really know why, except maybe that I appreciated its honesty, and I think this level of honesty is rare. I imagine that Laurence was a rational, two-feet-on-the-ground type of person, and I wish I could have known her. I have people like this in my life, and I find them refreshing and easy.

My version of this book has a fantastic Afterword by Timothy Findley. At only three or four pages long, it does a much better job than me -- obviously --
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
As good as or better than The Stone Angel which is one of my favourite books of all time. Well now this is too.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I just finished this 1/2 hour ago with tears streaming. I have only a fragment of an idea of what I think, nor if 5 stars is right. I read her The Stone Angel at least 40 years ago before I moved here, and was very disappointed not to find her shelved in my library. When I picked this up at the library book sale (I think it was), I felt as if it must be a treasure.

This is told in such an interesting manner. Each chapter starts in the present, then Laurence takes the reader back in time - memoryb
Margaret Laurence is one of Canada's most esteemed writers. The Diviners is one of 5 books that are about strong women living in or from small town Manitoba. Morag Gunn is the central figure in this book, an orphan that was brought up on the wrong side of the tracks in Manawaka by Prin and Christie who is the town scavenger. She always felt out of place and awkward, didn't fit in and now, a successful writer in middle age, she is reflecting back on her life as she waits for and worries about her ...more
Why do schools assign this book to teens? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that it was assigned to my teenage self by 30- and 40-something women. If you've read the novel you'll know what I mean.

I had to explore this novel in extreme depth, I mean poring over every word of it for months. I wound up disliking it because the characters didn't really speak to me at that time. When a novel doesn't come alive for me, it's a real chore to listen to lectures about it day after day. I should
Dec 11, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"The culmination and completion of Margaret Laurence's celebrated Manawaka cycle, The Diviners is an epic novel. This is a powerful story of an independent woman who refuses to abandon her search for love. For Morag Gunn, growing up in a small Canadian prairie town is a toughening process - putting distance between herself and a world that wanted no part of her. But in time, the aloneness that had once been forced upon her becomes a precious right - relinquished only in her overwhelming need for ...more
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I was sucked into this book more than I expected to be. I was incredibly fond of Morag, the main character, who I found to be very three dimensional. I laugh now, but I was infuriated when she got married to a guy that I absolutely couldn't stand. (She seems to attract this sort of man.) The book was written a while ago, in the 70s, and its depiction of racism and sexism almost seemed too much at times. But I have a sinking feeling that it wasn't as exaggerated as I was hoping it was,

My one com
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
"The Diviners" deserves to be a Canadian Classic. I first read this book in the 1970's and just finished re-reading it for book club. The strong female characters of Morag and Pique are believable and memorable as they each face the various challenges in their life. Margaret Laurence's women characters are strong and make a statement about the role of women in society and the strength women need to break through the barriers that society has set for women. Jules, Christie and Royland are the imp ...more
I did not enjoy this book. As a rule, I'm generally not a fan of books that focus on the more cynical, crustier side of life, but quite often I can stomach them if they have redeeming qualities such as enjoyable/relatable characters, beauty in the writing, clever dialogue, etc. This book had none of those things, in my opinion. I didn't care about the main character at all, and certainly didn't care about her sex life or her road to becoming an author that I would never read or the many and vari ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: can-con, 2013, classics
This is really more like 3.5 stars for me, but I suppose it does belong a notch above my other 3 star ratings, so it will have to be a 4. After reading and loving The Stone Angel, I decided to try and read all of the Manawaka series of books and, although The Diviners is the last in the series, it was the next I was able to get, so it was the next I read. I think that it is mainly in comparison to The Stone Angel that this book left me a little cold.

I've been trying to figure out why I wasn't as
Apr 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
This book captures the voices of its characters (and their change through time) better than almost anything I've ever read, and what makes this even more remarkable is that they are ordinary people, artistic but not particularly eloquent, marginalized by the rest of Canadian society, and living in a sort of rural Bohemia.
It was written in the 1970's and focuses on the obstacles a woman (or really any independent spirit) faces in achieving their goals. The theme is set against fine natural desc
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Felt more like a feminist book rather than a postcolonial one (currently studying it for a postcolonial unit at university). Still, enjoyed it, little bit of a teary moment towards the end that I wasn't expecting and was a mixed emotion of joy/sadness. Certainly made me think about ancestry/heritage and how we don't tend to know where we actually come from unless we hunt for it, like Pique wishes to do. Is identity something borne from a past we know little of? Is our ancestors' past prior to ou ...more
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book with characters so richly rendered I easily became invested in them, and could readily identify with many of their doubts, wishes and fears. I loved in particular Christie Logan and his wisdom, which Morag appreciates too late (I, too, have had this heartbreaking experience of too late). I also appreciated the complexity of Morag's thoughts, feelings, and decision making, and the unique device of the "movie" memories, which really is how memories function (in my experience). It ...more
Monika Havlasová
Tohle není knížka, kterou přečtete na jeden zátah. Je pomalejší, ale o to intenzivnější. Dlouho jsem se teď nemohla do ničeho začíst, až jsem sáhla po téhle odepsané knížce z knihovny, na kterou jsem náhodou při výprodeji za 5 Kč narazila. Stylově i obsahově rozhodně zajímavá.
Jun 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the first 100 pages or so I was tempted to put this book down and move onto something that moved a little quicker. My patience was greatly rewarded. The Diviners is one of the most thought provoking books I have ever read.
Mar 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mooched
I discovered Margaret Laurence through the first in the Manakwa series, The Stone Angel, a marvellous novel told in the voice of an angry 90-year old woman who doesn't want to be locked up in an old folks' home. I wanted to read more, but Laurence's books are near-impossible to find. Or were, till I joined Bookmooch. Now I have three of them in my TBR pile.[return][return]I picked this first, not realising it was the last, and read it over a couple of days while stuck at home with a cold. What a ...more
May 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was not my favourite book. In fact, about a quarter of the way in, I gave up on reading it, and went to read a synopsis instead (so I would have an idea of what people were talking about at book club). When I read the synopsis, I realized that I *really wanted* to get to the end organically. Even though I'd "spoiled" the ending, it seemed like a story worth living through.

Part of what I hated in the beginning was the disconnect between Morag and those around her. She seemed so awkward, and
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canlit
Totally loved this book....Margaret Laurence is quickly becoming one of my
favourite authors!

The Diviners follows the "life and times" of Morag Gunn, who grew up an
orphan in the small Canadian prairie town of Manawaka. It explores her
childhood experiences growing up as the adopted daughter of Prin & Christie,
her embarrassment with Christie's occupation as the town "garbage man", her
sometimes painful adolescence, her university days in Winnipeg, her marriage
to a man who seemed to just want to
Nov 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadiana, fiction
I was compelled to rate Margaret Laurence's The Diviners after seeing a review for a new book bearing the same title, this one by Libba Bray. I love Libba Bray's books for young adults and have read several, but I feel sad knowing that one of the finest pieces of Canadian fiction (and by this point in time a true classic) no longer ranks in the top ten Google search based on the title alone -- all the top ranking results go to Libba Bray's new book.
This really brings home to me how so much of m
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: donne, canada, ebook
cercare di ricostruire il passato per esorcizzarlo e costruirsi un presente e un futuro felici- questo accade nella vita di morag, scrittrice di fama e donna solitaria che si trova alle prese con una figlia inquieta che non riesce a lasciar andare. il suo è un racconto onesto e pieno di dolore- in cui la protagonista si mette completamente a nudo, non tralasciando nemmeno i particolari più spiacevoli e gli errori, usando le parole per evocare ricordi e renderli tangibili facendoli diventare la c ...more
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book starts slowly, and you think it's going to be another yawn of a Canadian prairie tale. Although Laurence uses unconventional and not always wholly effective formal aspects (or are they typos from the publisher?), the book's content is imaginative and provocative. Her style shifts as the character ages, and she uses narrative voices that, although not always concise, are realistic and engaging.
Jul 20, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
There is nothing wrong with Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners. But I can’t quite enjoy myself. While the story is interesting, and the characters sympathetic, I can never entirely embrace the novel. And around page five-hundred, when it has worn out its welcome, it comes to such a neat little closure, everything fitting together, that I can’t help but feel bored.
May 18, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-school
Another book that I had to read in high school. Another book that shouldn't be selected for teenagers to read. Maybe it spoke to my English teacher, but it certainly didn't reach out to me. I couldn't relate to Morag at all and the fact that I had to complete an intense study at the themes and character flaws, etc., I only ended up hating the book more.

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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

Other books in the series

Manawaka Sequence (5 books)
  • The Stone Angel
  • A Jest of God
  • The Fire-Dwellers
  • A Bird in the House
“the infinite capacity of humans to wound one another without meaning or wanting to” 10 likes
“Well, you're young. You know a whole lot you won't know later on." ~ Christie Logan” 3 likes
More quotes…