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An Audience of Chairs

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Paperback published by Vintage Canada (Knopf Canada)

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Joan Clark’s An Audience of Chairs opens with Moranna MacKenzie living alone in her ancestral Cape Breton farmhouse, waging a war with the symptoms of bipolar disorder and grieving the loss of her two daughters, taken from her over thirty years previously. There are few people remaining in her life, as Moranna cannot help but tax the patience of nearly everyone she encounters. Her long-suffering brother Murdoch has her best interests at heart, though he is fatigued by her enormous needs and pressured by his ambitious wife to invest less time in her. Pastor Andy politely sloughs off the peculiarly intelligent yet unpalatable sermons Moranna pens for him. Her neighbour Lottie knows what it is to be an eccentric and can be counted on to come through in a pinch. The local RCMP constabulary smooths over her legal scrapes. And her lover Bun, who lives with her when not working on the ferries between Cape Breton and Newfoundland, knows how to give her a wide berth on her “foul weather” days. Thanks to the assistance of these sometimes reluctant guardian angels, as well as to the carefully planned inheritance left by her father (not to mention her own sheer ingenuity), Moranna has managed to get by all these years despite small-town gossips and tormenting youths.

Through a series of flashbacks, we learn more about the devastating effects of Moranna’ s mental illness on her life and that of her family. But An Audience of Chairs also gives us a glimpse into the mind of a true iconoclast and wild spirit, who has managed despite overwhelming odds to keep hope alive.

Of An Audience of Chairs, Quill and Quire said: “Elegantly written and deeply grounded in place, this moving, compassionate novel is far more than a story of mental illness. Moranna’s quest is for peace, joy, and connection–the same yearnings that drive us all.”

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Joan Clark’s An Audience of Chairs opens with Moranna MacKenzie living alone in her ancestral Cape Breton farmhouse, waging a war with the symptoms of bipolar disorder and grieving the loss of her two daughters, taken from her over thirty years previously. There are few people remaining in her life, as Moranna cannot help but tax the patience of nearly everyone she encounters. Her long-suffering brother Murdoch has her best interests at heart, though he is fatigued by her enormous needs and pressured by his ambitious wife to invest less time in her. Pastor Andy politely sloughs off the peculiarly intelligent yet unpalatable sermons Moranna pens for him. Her neighbour Lottie knows what it is to be an eccentric and can be counted on to come through in a pinch. The local RCMP constabulary smooths over her legal scrapes. And her lover Bun, who lives with her when not working on the ferries between Cape Breton and Newfoundland, knows how to give her a wide berth on her “foul weather” days. Thanks to the assistance of these sometimes reluctant guardian angels, as well as to the carefully planned inheritance left by her father (not to mention her own sheer ingenuity), Moranna has managed to get by all these years despite small-town gossips and tormenting youths.

Through a series of flashbacks, we learn more about the devastating effects of Moranna’ s mental illness on her life and that of her family. But An Audience of Chairs also gives us a glimpse into the mind of a true iconoclast and wild spirit, who has managed despite overwhelming odds to keep hope alive.

Of An Audience of Chairs, Quill and Quire said: “Elegantly written and deeply grounded in place, this moving, compassionate novel is far more than a story of mental illness. Moranna’s quest is for peace, joy, and connection–the same yearnings that drive us all.”

Product Details
Paperback (368 pages)
Published: July 25, 2006
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Imprint: Vintage Canada
ISBN: 9780676976564
Other books byJoan Clark
  • Latitudes of Melt

    Latitudes of Melt
    This bountiful, magical novel opens with the discovery by two fishermen of a baby floating in a cradle on an ice pan in the North Atlantic off the coast of Newfoundland in 1912. To the small fishing community into which the foundling is adopted, Aurora, as they name her – with her shock of white hair, one blue eye and one brown – is clearly enchanted. But it is not until Aurora is herself an old woman that she learns the heart-wrenching story behind her miraculous survival on the ice. From the Trade Paperback edition.

    Road to Bliss

    Road to Bliss
    Set against the vividly described Prairies in the heart of a cloistered religious sect, this is a gripping novel from a beloved Canadian author. Fifteen-year-old Jim Hobbs, alienated from life in Toronto, hitchhikes to the Prairies on a whim, where he finds shelter in an abandoned farmhouse. There, he encounters his neighbours, members of Majestic Farm, a group that abides by an old-fashioned, ultra-conservative set of rules enforced by their ruthless pastor. When Miriam, one of the pastor’s daughters, secretly befriends Jim, they must hide their blossoming love for one another — or face terrifying consequences. In helping Miriam to escape her religious imprisonment on the farm, Jim must risk everything. From the Trade Paperback edition.

    Snow

    Snow
    Snow falls all day. Snow falls all week. Snow falls all month! Sammy’s world is a blanket of white. As he clambers up the heaps and mountains of snow, he imagines what might lie beneath — whales and seals, a black bear and her cubs, or could there be elves mining rubies and emeralds? Finally, the weather turns warm and the snow begins to melt, and Sammy finds a green surprise. In this simple, atmospheric book, author Joan Clark and illustrator Kady MacDonald Denton create a paean to that magical substance that enchants the eyes of children in winter.

    Ann Drew Jackson

    Ann Drew Jackson
    Jackson Thomas, a fifth-grade boy with Asperger Syndrome, is back in Joan Clark's sequel to her popular Jackson Whole Wyoming. This time, Jackson is in a new school and the story is through voice of Hillary Branson, another fifth grader. Hillary Branson has a serious attitude problem, along with being spunky, independent, and a tendency to lie. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that when a teacher assigns her to complete a science project with Jackson, Hillary rebels in any way she can. As the story develops her troubled background is revealed. She and Jackson eventually discover that they have a lot more in common than they had first realized. Ann Drew Jackson brings to light a truth that teachers have known for years--occasionally kids who have to deal with issues that are out of their control, such as Jackson, can become a guiding light for their peers. In Ann Drew Jackson, Jackson helps Hillary in a profound way, primarily by being himself?something Hillary has difficulty with

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