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Brief Reviews - Non-Fiction
by Pat Barclay

WHAT was Bedford House Publishing thinking of when it decided to issue Memories of a Goveror-General's Daughter (128 pages, $29.95 cloth), by Joan Michener Rohr with Terrence Heath? Granted, the late Roland Michener (1900-1991) was an outstanding Canadian and a respected Governor-General. Granted, his wife Norah was an accomplished chatelaine. Granted, their third daughter, Wendy, was a talented journalist. But what on earth is this gossipy collection of anecdotes and family trivia supposed to prove, except that there's an evident shortage of copy-editing skills at her publishers? The idea for the book, Michener tells us, originated with her old friend Betty McBain Isserstedt, who felt that the public's perception of Roland Michener lacked an appreciation of his "role as a very loving, exceptionally fine father," and "knew the side of Dad we both wanted presented." Well, okay, I take their point, but if every "loving father" in the public eye had a book written about him, there wouldn't be a tree left standing between Aklavik and Tierra del Fuego. Anyway, a sizeable chunk of this book is devoted to descriptions of Norah Michener's idiosyncrasies and what daughter Joan wore to meet the shah of Iran, etc. The attractive watercolours and sketches by Tony and Marsh Urquhart improve the situation, but in a book of family gossip, anecdotes, and name-dropping, what the reader really wants to look at is photographs.


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