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Maheux-Forcier, Louise. (Translated by David Lobdell)

Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1987. 118pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-671-2 (cloth) $25.95, 0-88750-672-0 (paper) $12.95.

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Barbara J. Graham

Volume 15 Number 6
1987 November

Originally published as L 'Ile joyeuse (Le Cercle du livre de France, 1965), this novel represents the early work of Maheux-Forcier, the 1970 Governor General's Award winner. David Lobdellís translation is at times stiff and formal, and it detracts from the natural elegance of the narrative.

While focusing on the first sexual experience of a sixteen-year-old music student, Maheux-Forcier creates a personal, spiritual island of joy from which young Isabelle ventures forth to cope with daily realities that are often far from joyous. This growing-up novel, a type which many authors write at least once in their career, is uniquely interesting to an adult with the patience and empathy to follow the nostalgic, poetical, often painful, ruminations of the more mature Isabelle. Very special teen-age readers might take the time to absorb the lengthy romantic passages full of metaphor and spiritual significance. There is much a talented, sensitive, young person might enjoy and understand: the love-hate relationship within the family, the realization that one's parents are having difficulty, the passage of the seasons reflecting the stages of the love affair, the love and appreciation of music, the acceptance of others for what they are, and the acceptance of self.

Each one of us has an isle of joy deep within; it is made of one experience or a composite of many which interrelate and/or superimpose. There is much to reflect upon as one follows Isabelle's agonizing, sometimes sordid, search for the love of parents, friends, and a significant other. That Stephane, the chosen one, is unworthy adds spice to the search. The author has created a thought-provoking study of a young girl on the brink of womanhood, establishing herself as a person, a woman, and a lover.

Barbara J. Graham, Education Centre, Board of Education for the City of London, London, Ont.
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