Good as Gone


After falling in love with and marrying a man two lifetimes older than her, Irving Layton’s last wife shares the story of her life with the acclaimed poet.

While a student at Dalhousie University, Anna Pottier attended a poetry reading featuring Irving Layton. Walking out of the auditorium that night, she knew two things: she wanted more than ever to be a writer, and she wanted to be with Layton.

At the age of twenty-three she became Layton’s fifth and final wife; she was forty-eight years his junior. She shared the entirety of his world and was intimately involved in the writing and publication of such books as The Gucci Bag, Fortunate Exile, and Waiting for the Messiah. She accompanied Layton on his last major overseas reading tour, broke bread with Pierre Trudeau and Leonard Cohen, met other luminaries, and watched Layton write his very last poem.

But slowly, Layton was changing. In 1992, a doctor put names to these changes: Parkinson’s disease and early-stage Alzheimer’s. Life carried on, but once-easy things grew more difficult, and then the day came in 1995, after nearly fourteen years, when Pottier had nothing left to give.

Good as Gone is a startling, at times searing, account of one of the most unusual love stories of the twentieth century.


In Good as Gone, Pottier vividly captures the impersonal cruelty of aging and conveys the love and creativity of their marriage. She writes how she still misses the man and poet who has made so many of her days extraordinary, the memoir a heartfelt testimony to this truth.


About the Author

Anna Pottier

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014
Anna Pottier photo

Anna Pottier

Anna Pottier is a Nova Scotian Acadian, a writer, and a painter. She attended Dalhousie University where, in 1981, she met Irving Layton, whom she married at age 23.