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Barfoot, Joan

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (A-Bo)

(Canadian, 1946– )

Barfoot's remarkable first novel, Gaining Ground (1980) tells the story of a woman who leaves her perfectly ordinary husband and children to live alone in the wilderness, in an attempt to recover or discover her own identity. She is tracked down and called to account by her daughter. It is a feminist classic, a scrupulously, painfully honest exploration of female identity and motherhood, and provides a fascinating contrast to more recent novels about women leaving their families, such as Anne Tyler's Ladder of Years. All Barfoot's novels delve into women's lives; in Charlotte and Claudia Keeping in Touch (1994) two friends who have been respectively a mistress and a wife compare notes as they get older. In Dancing in the dark (1982, filmed 1986) a woman examines her reasons for murdering her husband.

Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood  JR

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