Morag Gunn starts life as an orphan, and spends her life seeking a place to belong while establishing her own sense of identity. Morag Gunn is orphaned as an infant, and raised in a small prairie town in Canada by poor friends of her family. She experiences ostracism at a young age due to her socio-economic status, and spends time at the local dump ("nuisance grounds") with her adoptive father Christie, who is the town garbage man. She also strikes up an uneasy kinship with another child outcast, Jules Tonnere, a Metis resident of the town.
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Despite her rough beginnings, Morag is smart, and she goes away to university, where she begins to learn the craft of being a writer. She falls in love with one of her professors, an older and well established man, and marries him. Their marriage results in Morag sublimating her own goals and desires to those of her husband in her quest to fit in as an academic wife. Unsurprisingly, she eventually revolts against that kind of control, and uses a chance reunion with Jules to leave her husband. Jules and Morag begin a passionate sexual relationship that leads to the conception of their daughter, Pique. Morag raises her as a single mother, as the nomadic Jules pops in and out of their lives over the years.
Morag continues to write, and is able to support herself and Pique with it. She eventually moves out to a quiet home on a river bank, as Pique goes out into the world to carve her own space as an adult. Jules' hard living as a travelling musician catches up with him and he passes away after saying his goodbyes to Pique and Morag.
Best part of story, including ending:
I loved how honest Morag's voice is in this novel. Many people think that it was based on the author's own life, and the genuine tone of the storytelling backs that up.
Best scene in story:
I loved when Jules comes back to see Morag after several years away, and meets his daughter Pique for the first time. The author depicts his connection with both mother and child in a compelling way.
Opinion about the main character:
I disliked the way Morag seemed determined to do everything her own way, and often that was the hardest way.