Inland Navigation by the Stars
“Coleman’s keen observations about her long life make INLAND NAVIGATION BY THE STARS not only an intimate personal memoir but also a work of social history. Her reflections of the times she grew up in are compassionate yet critical and provide a unique and engaging insight into both Coleman herself and the challenges that women in Canada have faced over the last eighty years.”
—SONJA LARSEN, award-winning author of Red Star Tattoo
FROM THE AUTHOR OF I’LL TELL YOU A SECRET
Growing up in Toronto, Ontario, and North Hatley, Quebec, Anne Coleman was a combination of pre-feminist independent girl and literary dreamer. With literature as her source of information about life she married Frank, a handsome, brilliant Slovenian whose family had lost their famous Grand Hotel Toplice in Bled, northern Yugoslavia, to the Nazis and then to the Communists. He was just the type of man-with-a-troubled-past her reading had demanded she find. The marriage alternated between happiness and darkness, with Frank descending into bouts of alcoholism and depression as a result of his childhood trauma at the hands of the Nazis.
After a dramatic escape from the marriage with her two small children, Anne had to start over. She earned a Master’s degree in English from Bishop’s University, and then taught for five years at Miss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’s School in Montreal and for thirty years at a college in at University College of the Cariboo, now Thompson Rivers University, in Kamloops, BC.
Before heading west she was part of the liveliest literary gatherings of the era. Her circle included Hugh MacLennan, Leonard Cohen, Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje.
In the 1970s and 1980s Anne’s feminist awakening became a call to arms for women at her college and beyond. And for men too. The male professors who had hitherto reigned unchallenged fought back as best they could with mockery and threats.
But Anne struggled to live her feminism fully in her private life. She stayed far too long in a second marriage by going into survival-mode denial and immersing herself in her teaching, students and friendships. Her primary solace became the flora and fauna of “Narnia,” a 160-acre property south of Kamloops with an old Quebec-style house built during the marriage.
One section of her book is titled “How Beauty Makes Things Possible,” and her descriptions of nature there and elsewhere in the book — whether of the hills, lake and forests of North Hatley, the top-of-the-world wildness outside Kamloops or the gardens and coastal areas of Victoria — may prove to be among some of the finest in all of Canadian writing.