Bear

[amazon template=image&asin=0879236671]

Marian Engel’s 1976 novel about a woman (Lou) who is sent to an island to catalog the contents of a house that her Canadian institute received via bequest. It’s actually quite a fantastic story, up until the point when Lou has sex with the bear. I guess we’re supposed to be sympathetic because she’s lonely and the bear has been getting very close to her, nuzzling her by the fireside, swimming with her in the river. Stripping the story of its bestiality, it’s delightful, a tale of late spring, summer and early fall in northern Ontario. She catalogs and leisurely reads the contents of the library, which is where I discovered Trelawny’s remembrances of Shelly and Byron. She’s annoyed when the summer people return to the area, their motorboats buzzing about, because this curtails her swimming sessions with the bear and invades her privacy. She discovers trunks in the basement and enlists Homer’s help in dragging them up, which is when he first hits on her. They eventually have sex, despite Homer’s 24-year marriage. We also learn that Lou has weekly sex with the Director of her institute, a loveless act that she’s a bit ashamed of. When the weather turns cold, someone arrives to take the bear away, and then Lou leaves the island, back to Toronto and to find a new job.