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Translated by Alan Brown; illustrated by Gilles Tibo
Montreal, Tundra Books, 1989. 190pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-88776-242-5. CIP

Grades 9 and up/Ages 14 and up

Reviewed by Edith Parsons

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October

Gilles Tibo's delicately luminous black-and-white washes highlight the people and landscapes of Louis Hémon's classic novel of nineteenth-century Quebec. Drawings are both frequent and well placed. Alan Brown's translation (the first in nearly seventy years) captures the stalwart spirit of the Chapdelaines in simple, flowing language that makes this story of love, loss, death and survival a pleasure to read. Roch Carrier's insightful introduction places Hemon's work within the context of French-Canadian culture.

In her love for Francois Paradis, Maria Chapdelaine epitomizes a simple, romantic innocence. When the harsh climate leads to Francois' death, Maria must ultimately choose between two suitors: one who offers her an easy life in the United States, and one who can offer her a life of continued hardship in the rural Quebec of her people. Maria's decision to accept the latter makes her a heroic symbol and reflects the ultimate triumph of French-Canadian culture.

In its ability to depict a time when French-Canadians were no longer really French and not yet Quebeckers, Maria Chapdelaine plays a central role in French-Canadian literature. For this reason, it should be in every high school collection. Gilles Tibo's illustrations, Alan Brown's translation, and Roch Carrier's introduction make this the obvious edition of choice.

Edith Parsons is Assistant Manager, Information Division, at Edmonton Public Library in Edmonton, Alberta

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