Wednesday, 29 July 2009

on my book shelf: the torontonians

"Originally published in 1960, Phyllis Brett Young’s novel has now been reissued by McGill-Queen’s, presumably as part of a feminist project. The Torontonians portrays the lives of a number of characters during the 1950s from the perspective of its protagonist, Karen Whitney. Although the novel seems dated in certain respects with its Peyton Place-like romance and sociological realism, Young’s fiction may interest the reader as a period piece. From the outset, Karen’s bourgeois ennui startles the reader: “Early morning sunlight warm against the thin, smooth contour of one cheek, Karen sat in the breakfast-room and thought about suicide.” The Torontonians looks at the other side of Karen and society around her, turning from superficial optimism to disturbing depths of feeling.
Frequently perched at her window, Karen longs for escape from domestic confinement. The opening chapter’s title (“The exact size and shape and colour”) refers not only to a carpet she has ordered to perfect the décor of her house, but also to her more interior life with its growing imperfections. Her thought about suicide “was a toy she now played with too often when she was alone, but it fitted in size and shape and colour into the appalling emptiness inside her.” If this “toy” metaphor seems inappropriate as an objective correlative for suicide, Young qualifies it to make it more effective:

“In her mind’s eye, she saw it as a grey cube, opaque, polished, its surface a tactile pleasure to which fingers clung in spite of what was hidden within its six-sided facelessness. A child’s block, fashioned in hell, with no need for any outer marking. That she should look on it as a toy made it no less evil, did nothing to disqualify it as a companion for the despicable tears that had recently become part of the pattern of her nights and days.”"
more from this here.

an authentic canadian women's magazine cover that fits in perfectly with the book. the features are hilarious & annoying, such as "is the coffee party a menace or a must"...

thanks for the recommendation anabela, i'm going to eat this up, & just in time for the new third season of mad men!


  1. The Chatelaine cover is amazing!

    Oh, I do hope you'll love it as much as I did!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Oh My! I actually remember my grandmother having this magazine.


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