Book Reviews

Ted Harrison’s Rainbow World


Jan Stirling’s memoir of her friendship with Canadian artist Ted Harrison during the last years of his life is a warm commentary on an unlikely relationship that developed between the artist, then in his eighties, and the author, a talented musician, who was decades younger. It calls upon us to suspend our typical notion of male-female associations as the older man and younger woman explore many facets of life. She, a vivacious musician, he the contemplative philosopher share thoughts on family, marriage, happiness and friendship.
Stirling used her experiences with Harrison as a framework on which to structure her deeply personal story. We learn about the inner life of the author, which reflects universal angst, through short chapters that end with reflections attributed to Harrison.
To say this work is purely memoir would be misleading as the author employs the license of creative non-fiction to re-create dialogue and scenarios between herself and Harrison, who was deceased at the time of writing.
While this work gives the reader an insider’s view of the eminent artist in his declining years, it more often gives us a window into the psyche of the woman who befriended him. This book will bring nostalgic pleasure to those who knew Ted Harrison as well as those who seek to better understand the artistic temperament of its author.