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Roy, Gabrielle
Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1991. 165pp, paper, $6.95
ISBN 0-7710-9878-2. CIP


Roy, Gabrielle
Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1991. 159pp, paper, $5.95
ISBN 0-7710-9879-0. CIP

Subject Heading:
French Canadians-Fiction.

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up

Reviewed by Katheryn Broughton

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

The above titles have just been released in new editions, each attractively redesigned and including an afterword by a Canadian writer.

The eighteen independent stories of Street of Riches are connected through Christine, the youngest daughter of the family and a quiet, thoughtful observer. Set in St. Boniface, Manitoba, the stories revolve around a French-Canadian family experiencing urban life while all around new settlements are being created. In fact, papa is a government agent supervising the immigrants who are flooding into the region. Maman is a feisty woman, ahead of her time. For example, she embarks on a trip to Quebec, leaving without her husband's permission and using money she has earned herself.

This acclaimed collection was first published in 1955. In her Afterword, Miriam Waddington notes Roy's contemporary question, "When did it first dawn on me that I was one of those people destined to be treated as inferiors in their own country?" Waddington goes on to describe these stories as "magical and Moving," which sums them up very well.

In setting and conflict Windflower is in vivid contrast to Street of Riches. Elsa is a very young Inuit woman whose village is near an American base. She is raped by a young G.l. she does not even know, and bears a blond, blue-eyed son, Jimmy, who provides her with "joy and perpetual astonishment" as a young child and great grief as he grows up to resent her.

All is seen through the heart and mind of Elsa as she tries valiantly to understand the ways of the white community, these ways of necessity filtered through the wisdom of her own heritage. Much is impossible to comprehend, but she ponders all as she lapses into the loneliness that the loss of Jimmy brings, and becomes a replica of Winnie, her mother, whom she fought all her life not to resemble.

Phyllis Webb, in her Afterword, notes that an Inuit writer would undoubtedly tell a different story, but she is glad Gabrielle Roy "risked imagining her Fort Chimoans." The bittersweet tale is a departure for Roy from her usual settings and themes but one most worthy of attention.

Both titles are highly recommended.

Katheryn Broughton. Thorn hill Ont.
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