20 December 2013

by Anne Lazurko
Published by Coteau Books
Reviewed by Jackie Blakely
$19.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-563-4

Dollybird, by Anne Lazurko, is a hopeful tale of love and loss on the Canadian prairies in the early 1900’s. Written in first person narrative, Lazurko brings to life the stories of Dillan, an Irish immigrant from Cape Breton, fleeing memories of a dead wife and poverty, and Moira from Halifax, pregnant and sent to Saskatchewan by her parents until the baby is born and adopted. Lazurko weaves their tales, chapter by chapter, as the two strangers struggle to come to terms with loss and change while making a new life for themselves in Ibsen, Saskatchewan.

Beautifully set in the backdrop of the Canadian prairie wilderness, Dollybird is a remembrance of hardship and new frontiers. While Dillan tries desperately to get over the death of his wife shortly after childbirth, Moira struggles with being abandoned by her lover and her parents, forced to live in the middle of an unsettled land until her child is born and she can resume her dream of becoming a doctor.

When Moira takes a job as Dillan’s housekeeper – his dollybird – she finds herself becoming more accustomed to prairie living and new the freedoms that living in the wilderness provides to a women in her situation. And now free of the household chores and of taking care of his young son, Casey, Dillan learns how to farm his new land and what it means to be part of a small but growing farm community.

Each chapter brings Moira and Dillan closer to what they need from each other, from themselves, and from their neighbours in order to survive the harsh landscape of the prairies, and even more importantly, the new landscape of their lives.


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