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 on 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.