CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Maillet, Antonine.

Toronto, Simon & Pierre, c1986. 150pp. cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-88924-187-2.CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Barbara J. Graham

Volume 14 Number 6
1986 November

Acadia, a hotbed of intrigue during the days of prohibition, becomes the medium by which the adult reader is whisked away on an imaginary adventure so real that one would be hard pressed to deny its authenticity. This is the stuff of which folklore is made.

Mariaagelas, the last of a long line of ne'er do well Gelases, who have inhabited the south side of the river since the parish was founded, is determined that she will not be one of the girls destined for the canneries in Cocagne or Pugwash, or in the States. Independently and creatively, she involves herself in the bootlegging business and succeeds beyond expectation. However, not without great machinations, and not without a worthy opponent, the widow Calixte, who hates all Gelases on general principle. The reader is treated to highjinks of folkloric proportions as the adversaries square off for the battle. Involved are ghosts, the customs officer's bull, the theft of habits from a convent, and escapes across borders.

The author has a keen sense of the ridiculous as she involves members of the tightly-knit little community in the struggle to survive the outside strictures of government and the inside strictures of the church and its pretensions as centred in the character of the widow. Characters are recognizable stereotypes, as is the rule with the folktales however, they are lively and memorable.

The translator has captured the idiom of the original French and the result is a colloquial, folksy rendering that is guaranteed to delight the adult reader. The salty language adds to the veracity of the telling.

The author is a first-rate storyteller, whose literary reputation is well recognized in French Canada. English readers will discover with pleasure both the strangeness and familiarity of a "tight little island" as it once existed within the reality of imagination.

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


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works