The House Of All Sorts by Emily Carr
The title of this collection refers to the apartment house Emily Carr built in 1913 when she gave up teaching art and hoped to realize enough from rents to support her devotion to painting. This is the story of her experiences as a landlady – a bitterly unhappy period of more than twenty years. War and economic conditions forced her to supplement her income, leaving little time for art. Only her animals and the pleasure of an occasional sketching trip to the woods alleviated her misery.
My rating: ★★★★½
My aunt gave me this, along with a biography of Grey Owl, when she was cleaning out her bookshelves. I’ve had them in my to-be-read pile for at least two years now. As soon as I started The House Of All Sorts, I wondered why I had waited so long. Perhaps I thought it would be stuffy, or a rote biography; I certainly did not expect one of Canada’s most famous artists to write such soaring, magical prose. Emily Carr’s writing has lost absolutely none of its strong voice across 100 years, and if this is merely the creative outlet she was forced to turn to when she couldn’t afford to paint, then her paintings must be deafening.