(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Morag Gunn is a successful forty-seven-year-old novelist who has bought a farm in rural Ontario, where she is trying to write a new novel. The discovery of some snapshots of her as a small child sets off a series of recollections; The Diviners is the story of Morag’s life, told in chronologically arranged flashbacks alternating with events in her present.

Morag was orphaned young and brought up in the small Manitoba town of Manawaka by Christie Logan, the despised town scavenger, and his increasingly obese and inactive wife, Prin. They do not have much to give, but Prin is kind and Christie does give Morag a rich store of tales of a (probably imaginary) Scottish hero, Piper Gunn. Determined to leave Manawaka and to write, Morag goes to the provincial university, where she falls in love with, and marries, Brooke Skelton, a handsome professor fifteen years her senior; he takes her to Toronto, where he has a new position and where she sinks unwillingly into the life of a professor’s wife. Brooke does not want children, and he patronizes her attempts to write. After much struggle, Morag completes and publishes a novel.

Morag accidentally encounters Jules Tonnerre, a half-breed (Metis) who was her first lover in Manawaka. When Brooke reacts scornfully to her friend, Morag goes with Jules and spends the night making love with him, an action which brings her marriage to an end. She stays for a while with Jules but knows that he is a rambler with...

(The entire section is 489 words.)