The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland

The Forest Lover by Susan VreelandA lovely portrayal of the life and struggle of Canada’s famous West Coast painter, Emily Carr. The book describes Carr’s unconventional tastes and lifestyle, which shocked the her colonial Victoria sisters and neighbours. It tells of how she dismissed the traditional parlour portraits painted by other women of her class and upbringing and found her authentic subjects -towering totem poles and cedars. The book is also a disturbing record of the discrimination and intolerance of white society for the traditions and customs of the coastal Indians. The poverty, misery and shame brought to these proud people through the bigotry of the time is a black mark on Canada’s history.

What the Armchair Critics Thought:
We very much enjoyed this book and looked at coffee table books of Carr’s paintings during our meeting. Vreeland has brought the character and her struggles very much to life and it is interesting to trace the connections in Vreeland’s story to the various Carr paintings she weaves into the narrative. Her discussion of Carr’s sense of the underlying colours in nature and her development of bold brush strokes and techniques was fascinating. You can read more about the author’s thought process on her web site.

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