“The novel explores what it was like to be a woman at the beginning of the 20th century, and at times, we go with Moira to places we might not want to see. While the story is sometimes dark, there are also moments of joy and surprise.
The two central characters are easy for 21st century readers to relate to because their worldviews are ahead of their time. Moira and Dillan Flaherty, the Irish Catholic homesteader who employs her, are essentially feminists before there was such a word.
Many exciting and terrible events happen throughout the book, some caused by the actions of others and some by the untameable forces of nature. But the most gripping aspect of the story is the characters’ development. Readers will go on an emotional adventure with Moira and Dillan and watching them become the new people they are at the end of the novel is a true pleasure.
Dollybird is not the Saskatchewan you know, but it is a Saskatchewan that’s charged with life and energy, a place you will not soon forget.”
Ashleigh Mattern, Prairies North Magazine (online) http://www.prairiesnorth.com/our-stories/special-features/anne-lazurko-dollybird/
“There are many places here that Lazurko could give in to sentimentality and good old pioneer cliché…, but Lazurko veers away from easy conclusions and gives us a few good surprises. As well, she writes a couple of gripping scenes, one of childbirth and one of the inevitable prairie storm, that are true page-turners, but never gratuitous and always organic parts of the overall story.
In a well plotted, readable novel, Lazurko helps redress a long-standing misconception that the European re-settling of Saskatchewan was done only by men. As one title proudly proclaimed a number of years ago, there were mighty women, too.” http://www.thestarphoenix.com/life/Pioneer+novel+stays+fresh+avoids+cliches/9287015/story.html
–Bill Roberston, The Saskatoon Star Phoenix Dec. 4, 2013
“Lazurko’s straightforward prose transports the reader to early 20th-century Canada. A Halifax slum, seedy brothel and claustrophobic sod hut are brought to life by well-researched details into medical practices, domestic life and homesteading. Hers is an unidealized portrayal of life at that time, as known to the working poor, the disenfranchised and the sickly. Her characters are well-developed, flawed and frightened.
Dollybird, like all good novels, and life itself leaves much to ponder and question. It does reassure us, however, that placing ourselves in a new location does not necessarily mean that we have left old attitudes and beliefs behind.” (Telegraph Journal Review)-Laurie Glenn Norris for the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal
“The story is narrated in the first person, alternating between Moira’s voice and Dillan’s. Each perspective is well developed and distinctive. The descriptions of the hardships endured by homesteaders at the turn of the 20th century are interesting, and historical details add to the book’s flavour and believability. Throughout, Lazurko reveals the ways in which her characters are victims of the Puritan religious ideology of the time. The writing is wonderfully descriptive, and the book is a fast and easy read.
Dollybird could easily have strayed into predictability and cliche, but Lazurko manages to keep the story fresh and interesting. The novel is a valuable addition to historical literature of the prairies.” http://www.quillandquire.com/reviews/review.cfm?review_id=8210 –Quill and Quire (November 2013)
“An absolutely stunning novel that I hope gets some notice. I’ve reviewed some 4,000 books for the Sun-Times in the past 20 years; only a few times did something new glue me like this one. Dollybird. Very nice.”–Andrew Armitage, Book Editor for The Sun-Times
“The novel’s strength lies in its glimpses into not only the hardship but also the tight sense of community that marked pioneering men and women. While Ibsen is a real place name in Saskatchewan, the name also calls to mind Ibsen’s Nora trapped in her dollhouse. Lazurko’s title speaks to the confining roles women were permitted to have as the West was “settled” and to the difficulties women faced when they, like Moira, tried to resist them.” (Readmore)–The Coastal spectator, Sept. 16, 2013
“This was an historical novel lightened by the fresh scent of modernity, which also has cross-Canada appeal. If you like prairie stories with a strong female lead, this will be a good choice for you!
Also, Coteau’s cover designer hits another homerun with this one… really beautiful and a touch of visual trickery makes for perfection here.” http://indextrious.blogspot.ca/2013/11/dollybird.html
–The Indextrious Reader, Nov 23, 2013
“What makes Dollybird seductive is the great care Lazurko has for the characters, who have rich histories wrapped neatly in intricate dialogues and breathtaking action and downfalls. They are desperate and wild. They are judgmental. They are saints and saviors… Lazurko is deceptive in where her plot takes you – much like the skies churn on the grasslands, Dollybird is a warm sun, a relentless storm.”(http://www.pagesandpatches.com/2013/11/dollybird-annelazurko.html) –Devin Pacholik, Pages and Patches
“Dollybird is a page turner. Every character is fully realized, crippled by pains specific and universal. The writing is shot through with poetry, even the landscape is rendered harsh and graceful in the same moment. Author Anne Lazurko handles time as elegantly as she manages plot. Movement is seamless; I believed the motivations of the characters: Moira’s intelligent sense of injustice; Dillan’s stubborn blindness to his own failings. Their triumphs are hard-won and convincing. Such a cast of characters- everyone steps off the page, even those we only catch a glimpse of.
History backlights every line; Lazurko’s research paid off. I trusted, I learned, I was transported to southern Saskatchewan during the rough days of early settlement. I have no doubt that it was hard to write a novel without sentimentality but Lazurko achieves a level of objectivity that makes space for the reader.
Dollybird covered me in dust and mud; the pages are intoned with every kind of love: the absent, the lost, the yearning, the found.
-Katherine Lawrence, Award winning author of “Lying to Our Mothers”, and “Ring Finger, Left Hand”.