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CanLit150

Celebrate more than 150 years of Canada with 150 books.

Kim Moritsugu Recommends

The Man and the Woman by Helen McLean

The Man and the Woman (2014)

(From Cormorant Books)

In 1946, a Canadian girl arrives in war-scarred London to study art at the Slade School. At the same time, Bonnard, the elderly French artist whose work first ignited her passion for painting, looks back on his career.

From the moment she lands in England, Elizabeth’s life begins to mirror Bonnard’s past experience: Bonnard’s father pressed him into a hated career in law; similarly, Elizabeth’s parents urge her to take a university degree “to fall back on” after she marries. Just as brilliant young Bonnard was swept into the exhilarating literary and artistic world of an avant-garde magazine, Elizabeth is absorbed into the quasi-communal ménage of a prominent London art dealer and his family, whose encouragement helps her achieve success as a portraitist.

Their separate but parallel journeys lead both Elizabeth and Bonnard to the same revelation: public acclaim is not enough; to truly live a life governed by a peeled-eye investigation of the visible world, sacrifices must be made.

Helen McLean

(From Cormorant Books)

Helen McLean is a Toronto author and artist. She has written the memoirs Sketching from Memory (1994) and Details from a Larger Canvas (2001), a collection of essays, Just Looking (2008), and two novels, Of All the Summers (1998), and Significant Things (2003), which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize, Canada & Caribbean division.

Her book reviews, essays and commentaries have appeared in many publications including The Albertan, The Globe and Mail, Brick, National Post, Quill & Quire, Arts and Letters Daily, Books in Canada, Ars Medica, and the Literary Review of Canada. From the late 60s to early 90s, her paintings appeared in solo exhibitions in Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Peterborough, and Montreal, and found their way into many private and public collections, including that of the Bank of Canada in Ottawa. Her portrait of Margaret Laurence hangs in the Margaret Laurence Home in Neepawa, Manitoba.