Joan Clark is a writer for whom I have great admiration, not just professionally but personally as she has always been most encouraging and gracious to me as a younger writer. So I awaited her latest novel, An Audience of Chairs, with much anticipation, and I was not disappointed.
An Audience of Chairs tells the story of Moranna, a Cape Breton woman who loses everything that matters in her life because of her mental illness. Moranna is a survivor, though, and makes her way back to a life she can live on her own terms — even if those terms don’t always make sense to others.
Joan Clark vividly draws us in to Moranna’s inner world — we can see how Moranna’s choices and actions make perfect sense within her reality — while at the same time giving us the bigger picture so we can see how frustrating and incomprehensible those actions are to the people around Moranna: her brother, her husband, her children. This is not only a beautifully written novel, but a penetrating fictional treatment of mental illness. Moranna is a haunting and engaging character who stayed with me long after I put the book down.
An Audience of Chairs won the Newfoundland Book Award for fiction. It richly deserved the award and I hope this novel wins many more prizes, as well as winning the hearts of many mroe readers.