Finding Words

Finding Words

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Finding Words

A Writer's Memoir

Marianne Brandis

6 X 9 inches, 240 pages
8 b&w photographs

THIS IS A MEMOIR OF A MANY-FACETED LIFE that began in the Netherlands just before the Second World War and has been lived in many places, under many different conditions.

Marianne Brandis writes about the war and recalls life in an occupied country, with her father away in a prisoner-of-war camp and her mother bartering the family's belongings for food. She describes the danger and terror of living under bombardment in the middle of the air war in Europe. After the war, the family emigrated from Holland to a farm in northern British Columbia and lived a pioneer existence. Then "the family capsule" moved to southern British Columbia and, later, to Nova Scotia before settling in southern Ontario.

Giving voice to experience has been Marianne's lifelong endeavour. She has kept a journal for over forty years. And she established a literary career as an award-winning author of historical fiction. Her novels have a clear autobiographical dimension and led her to reflect on the creativity and courage required to reinvent one's life. With Finding Words, she moves into another kind of history—the story of her own life as a strand in the tapestry of our time, and the examination of how this experience made her a writer. She links the outer and the inner life in her exploration of what it means to be an immigrant, a daughter, a single woman, a lesbian, a writer.

She writes as a survivor of childhood trauma. She writes as a single woman, with no children, living alone and facing old age and the need once more to reinvent a life. She writes about discovering, in her fifties, that she was lesbian. Above all, she writes about her writing, which is the main source of her sense of identity. She explores the ways in which experience is understood and assimilated, the ways in which her writing is rooted in experience and, in turn, shapes and nourishes the ongoing and constantly evolving life being lived now.

"For writers, for single women (single for whatever reason), for any strangers and loners—and who of us is not one?—and for people who find themselves growing older on an increasingly alien planet, Marianne Brandis gives a voice to the darkness. She doesn't make it look easy, but she shows us that it can be done, with grace, clarity, and above all, courage."

—Betty Jane Wylie



Marianne Brandis


Marianne, after studying at UBC, St. Francis Xavier, and McMaster University, worked in radio for four years and then taught English for twenty-three years at Ryerson Institute (now University) in Toronto. She is the author of five award-winning historical novels set in the Canadian past that are used in some schools to help teach history, as well as three novels for adults.

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