There’s always a pattern in a life, whether we notice it or not.
The sociologist recognizes the pattern, but most other people are unaware of it; they simply live without thinking about it, except perhaps late in life or during an illness.
The two books reviewed here are examples of each of these approaches.
Dear Everybody, edited by Anne Budgell (Boulder Publications, $19.95), is the story of a woman who successfully exchanged one way of life for a completely different one.
The other is a theory based on the patterns of life — “the five cycles of change,” as the author, A. L. Sinikka Dixon, calls them. This book, The Fabric of Your Life: the five cycles of change, is published on the West Coast by Freisen Press, Victoria, but the author lives on Prince Edward Island. (available at firstname.lastname@example.org $17.99 paperback or $24.99 hardcover).
Barbara Mundy was the daughter of a wealthy New York family. She became interested in Sir Wilfred Grenfell’s work in northern Newfoundland and Labrador and decided to volunteer with his group one summer. This was in the late 1920s. She found she was happier in Labrador than she had ever been before. In spite of the Depression (which hardly affected her family) she was able to move, though her mother was very upset. However she was in her 30s and needed in Dixon’s words “to get on to the next cycle of her life.”
A year or so later she married a trapper, Russell Groves, and went on the trap-line with him for two seasons. All this, and more, are included in the letters she wrote to family and friends and, with her diaries for those seasons, form the basis of this book.
The editor is an adequate writer, but Mundy is more than that. Her descriptions of nature are outstanding. Her writings are replete with disastrous and funny incidents, too. You can forget about life patterns while devouring it — and you’ll never believe where the couple ended up.
Dixon’s theory does seem to fit many lives. We find it hard to understand in some respects, however, others may find it easier. And, in any case, it’s interesting to read.
Not the least interesting part is the many examples drawn from Dixon’s experiences all over the world — from her childhood in Finland to her sojourns in Sweden and the Netherlands and including times in Asia and Africa along the way.
Perhaps one day she’ll write a memoir.
At the very least, this book makes us conscious of life patterns and that we don’t just live from A to B to C and so on until we die.
Elizabeth Cran is a freelance writer who writes a book review column for The Guardian. To comment or to send her books to review, write her at Her new address is: 95 Orange Street, Apt. 101, Saint John NB, E2L 1M5. or call her at 506-693-5498.