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A Book of Kells:: Growing Up in an Ego Void Paperback – September 19, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Virany & Virany; 3rd edition (September 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0969914210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0969914211
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,858,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

As a five-year-old girl, the author is baffled by parents who are such dedicated examples of the gospels they never reveal who they really are. Bear skins and tennis racquets hint at a different past. Helped by seventy-two flimsy letters that had logged 200,000 miles, she succeeds, at age sixty-nine, in finding her parents' lost egos.

Meanwhile, the reader is swept from an Ontario farm to an English hearth in World War I, paddles the fur trade route and keeps tabs on a missionary among the Swampy Cree. A legendary love affair leads to a five-day winter trek by two people alone in the universe to find a place for a baby to be born.

But there is an aftermath to joy during the Great Depression and World War II in small communities. In spite of biblical and behavioral paradoxes, plus a black sheep complex and near suicide, the author finds herself also. Much thanks is due to the family's Methodist pattern, a guru-like professor (Northrop Frye) and a college motto (The truth shall make you free.) Whatever your age and whether inner or outer adventures interest you more, this book is stimulating to read. It dances a delicate balancing act between ego and soul.

About the Author

Margaret Kell Virany is the child of a World War I Canadian sailor and his British warbride. She is one of the pioneer generation of ministers' children in the United Church of Canada, formed by a union of Methodists, Presbyterians and Congregationalists in 1925. A student of Professor Northrop Frye, she received a B.A. in English Language & Literature at Victoria College, University of Toronto in 1955. Her employment life included serving as Media Relations Officer for the Metropolitan Toronto YMCA and National Council of YMCAs, and as editor of the Aylmer (Québec) Bulletin. She has written two books and edited a third.

More About the Author

Born on my grandparents' farm on the northern fringes of Toronto, I graduated in English Language & Literature from U of T, married my Varsity heart throb Thomas Virany and headed for motherhood and a career in journalism. Early employment was at the Toronto Telegram, Maclean-Hunter Publishing Company and freelancing for The Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Montreal Star and Montreal Gazette. I was the professional public relations secretary at the Montreal YMCA ("until a man could be found"), and then at the Toronto YMCA (on merit). After giving birth to a son, I was assistant organizer of CBC-TV's first live nationally televised conference The Real World of Woman. Following the arrival of two daughters, we moved to Ottawa's Québec suburb of Aylmer, a sector of Gatineau. After three years as editor of the Aylmer Reporter, which went bankrupt, I became co-founder (with Arthur Mantell) and editor of a new paper, the Aylmer Bulletin. We worked out of our homes and our spouses helped too. In later years, when I opened the keepsake box full of love letters my mother saved, and looked at the diaries and photos my father left, I had a feeling someone was putting me up to something so I did more research. Six years later I published A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, to share the romance of their post-WWI transatlantic courtship, adventures living among Manitoba's Swampy Cree, and exemplary lives, with a wider audience. To this I added recollections of my own uneasy coming of age as a minister's daughter. My new paperback book, Kathleen's Cariole Ride, will be released in late October 2014. It is the love story only, with 16 historic pictures. At the 2012 Centennial Conference honoring literary critic Northrop Frye, I was introduced for having had my class notes posted on the fryeblog by the Robert Denham Library, available for public download. Imagine coming full circle from my college days and the shorthand I learned on my very first job!

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Diane on March 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderfully personal tale of one family that sweeps through Canadian history from the 1800's onwards. The descriptions of the ordinary details of life, as well as the big events and traditions, puts the reader into every scene. But the strength of the story is a grown woman searching her family's past for an understanding of her parents' and her egos and souls. Its a both a historical and a psychological story interwoven masterfully into one riveting seamless tale.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sigrid Macdonald on March 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A Book of Kells is a fascinating account of the early lives of the author's parents - how they met, the nature of their courtship, and what they did with their lives before and after they had children. Margaret Kell's father, John, was a farmer turned minister. Her mother came from England and together they became missionaries of sorts, being one of the first people - if not the first - to bring the Word and the Bible to the Cree Indians. These parents were strict and devout, living through the Great Depression and the days of the milkman's wagon.

The book is a wonderful historical account of hard-working, devoted Canadians, with powerful scenes such as the parents kayaking and logging for 40 miles in the brutally cold northern Manitoba wind: so cold that the father's nose froze.

It is also a work of candor. Margaret tells it like it is. She is very straightforward talking about relationships, feelings, and her own adult beliefs about religion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is a moving memoir of a personal journey of a grown woman who wished to reconstruct, examine and understand what exactly was the relationship and love her parents shared between themselves and in turn were able to bequeath to their children and the community to which they belonged. It lovingly reconstructs without passing judgement how the parents met in England, what prompted them to move to Canada. It details a period in History in a first person account of someone who had lived through the turmoil of the war and was thus better able to give a dispassionate account
of events in Europe and their repercussions abroad. The descriptions were vivid as they were witnessed. The settings especially the one where her Mother accuses her Father of neglecting her and taking her for granted, the breakdown and then an attempt at reconciliation will remain forever etched in my mind. Has the Author been able to forgive her Father for neglecting her Mother?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BRENDA on July 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Another book written from letters. Enjoyed this book and the historical background is always intriguing to me.Learned much about early Canada and their natives. Recommend this book.
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