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Toronto, McClelland and Stewart. 1989. 306pp, paper, $6.95. ISBN 0-7710-9995-9. (New Canadian Library series). CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Ingrid vonHausen

Volume 17 Number 3
1989 May

Philippe Panneton, doctor and writer, used the pseudonym Ringuet for most of his writings. Thirty Acres (Trentearpents), first published in 1938 (Fides, 1972)) is his best and best known work. This "New Canadian Library" edition, translated by Felix and Dorothea Walter, is a vast improvement on previous editions in the series, which had, in my opinion, the most uninviting covers in Canadian paperback publishing. This new edition of Thirty Acres features a reproduction of Andre Bielers' water-colour After true Mass (1939) on the cover.

This simple tragic story deserves its place as a classic in Canadian literature. Told in four sections, one for each season of the year, the book captures in simple, powerful language the life of a Quebec farmer at the beginning of this century. Here are the vicissitudes of rural life: birth, marriage, death, inclement weather, natural catastrophes, human wickedness and failings. Euchariste Moisan is an infuriating but very human protagonist. He is the victim of his own stubbornness, but the social and economic forces that operate in his life are beyond his control.

Here are meaty themes for the reader: a society in transition and the conflict between generations, social alienation, and the plight of the immigrant, to say nothing of the insight into Quebecois mores and values.

This is an ideal text for classroom use. It is not an easy one for our students, raised on excitement and violence, however, for the serious and sensitive reader it is a must. No well-read educated Canadian should miss this sombre tale.

Ingrid vonHausen, Preston High School Cambridge, Ont.
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