A Canadian novelist and poet, she is best known for Away, a 1993 novel that remained on The Globe and Mail's national bestseller list for 132 consecutive weeks. Her other award-winning works include The Whirlpool, The Underpainter, and The Stone Carvers.
She studied English literature and art history at the University of Guelph.
She was awarded the Trillium Book Award, The Governor General's Award, and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize.
She married Tony Urquhart in 1976. Together they had one daughter.
She wrote a biography of Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery.