Details from a Larger Canvas


The biggest surprise - and disappointment - that life holds is that it is over so fast. The golden tomorrow, to which most people (usually women) put off their hopes rarely appears. This is the lesson learned by Helen McLean in her memoir.

Details from a Larger Canvas is about a woman with the expectations of her time and class heavy upon her shoulders; in short, she is supposed to be much the same woman as her Rosedale matron mother-in-law whose life was bound up in sets of rules and whose life had little expression except in the form of materialistic acquisition and censure. Instead, Helen creates her own life - and, while painting a portrait of Margaret Laurence, finds a woman with whom she has common ground.


Details from a Larger Canvas, McLean's third book, is entertaining, even poignant, in places, and the writing sparkles.

The Vancouver Sun (August, 2001)

It's a shame younger readers are more often drawn to tales of hedonism and tragedy when it comes to the lives of artists, because here is a quiet parable about the importance of making room for what matters to the soul.

The Globe and Mail (May, 2001)

About the Author

Helen McLean

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014

Helen McLean

Writer and artist Helen McLean was born in Toronto where she now lives. She has exhibited her paintings across Canada, and has been a teacher and a journalist. She is the author of Sketching from Memory (Oberon Press), Of All the Summers (Women's Press), and the acclaimed memoir Details From a Larger Canvas (Dundurn Press).