The Cutting Season


179 pages
ISBN 0-920316-67-0





Reviewed by Joan McGrath

Joan McGrath is a Toronto Board of Education library consultant.


To the angry dismay of her adult children, newly widowed Joanne determines to sell her city home and to live alone in an isolated cottage on a north-western Ontario lake. In the winter solitude of what was once the family’s summer home, she hopes to find peace of mind. As the older woman struggles to come to terms with her new loneliness, her enforced independence, and her inexperience, daughter Maureen too faces a crisis. Her work as a nurse to the dying has made her only too familiar with the unchangeable facts of death; but suddenly she finds herself required to deal with the entirely different but equally insistent demands of new life. Unmarried, and at odds with her lover, Maureen is pregnant. Although mother and daughter have never been particularly close, in a time of decision and of mortal danger the two discover a loving warmth they have never before shared. The climactic action, in which both violence and childbirth are imminent, is an example of spellbinding storytelling. Her powerful prose deservedly made Margaret Clarke winner of the Search for a New Manitoba Novelist Competition.


Clarke, Margaret, “The Cutting Season,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 12, 2024,