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Holden, Helene.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1986. 176pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-644-5 (cloth) $23.95, 0-88750-645-3 (paper) $12.95. No CIP

Reviewed by Vivienne Denton

Volume 15 Number 6
1987 November

This is the third novel by Helens Holden, who is better known as one of three founder-owners of Montreal's all-Canadian bookshop, the Double Hook. She is a skilful story-teller, but I would not recommend this lurid account of Quebec in the midst of a fictive revolution. Helene Holden imagines a Quebec in economic and social chaos following some sort of revolutionary coup, although the exact political situation is left unspecified. The protagonist is a beautiful, wealthy, anglophone woman who flees the city with her lover and child to what might once have been a luxurious country cottage on the north shore of the St. Lawrence. But no escape to rural peace and self-sufficiency is possible.

In Holden's fiction the Quebec countryside is in chaos under a brutal populist government upheld by biker rebels. The people are hungry, the necessities of life are hard lo obtain, cruelty and violence are rampant, priests are burnt in the churches, and bodies float daily down the St. Lawrence. The fugitives are a threat to the community, and the wealthy city woman's snobbery does not endear her to the locals. The plot moves inexorably to its climax in which the aristocratic woman is savagely raped and sent to her death by the resentful local French Canadian villagers. It is a pity that Helene Holden chose to expend her story-telling skills on such sensational materials.

Vivienne Denton, Toronto, Ont.
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