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Anne Hébert.

Toronto, General Publishing, c1970, 1982.
250pp, paper, $3.95.
ISBN 0-7736-7029-7.

Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by Phyllias James.

Volume 11 Number 1.
1983 January.

Anne Hébert, with her experience in writing drama for films, her poetic ability, and her intimate knowledge of French Canada, deals skillfully with this old French-Canadian story. It won her the Prix des libraries in France and was made into a film.

From the first page, through colourful images, the reader is plunged into the mystery and intrigue of characters and events. There is the dutiful, protected Elizabeth rushed into an early marriage with the wealthy, brutal, and unfaithful squire of Kamouraska, followed by the search and eventual cruel murder.

The constant stability of the church and its rituals is referred to throughout the story to remind the young wife of her early training. In contrast, the thin thread of narrative becomes unravelled in the relating of thoughts and dreams. With such a strong appeal to the visual, some readers might prefer to see the film; others might be caught up in the poetic prose, the accurate descriptions of the beauty of the seasons, and appreciate the story of balanced reasonable life in contrast with the emotional fantasy world. The reader would value too the galloping sound of the prose as the writer relates Dr. Nelson's ride for miles and miles on his awful mission.

The quaint, flowing style and sustained mood of suspense would keep most readers hurrying through the story. The book is a worthwhile addition to any library and revealing to senior students with a curiosity for and interest in French Canada.

Phyllis James, Qualicum Beach, BC.
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