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Martin, Claire.

Translated by David Lobdell. Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1987. 128pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-682-2 (cloth) $25.95, 0-88750-686-0 (paper) $12.95.

Reviewed by Catherine Creede

Volume 16 Number 6
1988 November

This collection of twenty-six stories was first published in 1958, when it won the Cercle du Livre de France. Claire Martin went on to win a Governor General's Award for fiction for Le joue droit (Montreal: Le Cercle du Livre de France, 1966), and it seems to be on the strength of her later writings that this first collection has now been translated. But there is nothing particularly likeable or memorable about any of the stories in the book. As the title suggests, the stories all concern the relationships between men and women. Love, as depicted in this collection, is no more than a series of role-playing games that involve no more real emotion than a weekend player would bestow on a tennis game.

The depiction of women is particularly striking. There is a prevailing misogyny in the text: women compete constantly with their best friends for the love of men; women are objectified and made frivolous; stepmothers are predestined haters of children, marrying only to wreak havoc on tender little souls; women have affairs not for the pleasure in them but simply to take vengeance for their husbands' affairs.

This collection does nothing to enhance either the canon of Canadian literature or literature by women.

Catherine Creede, Windsor, Ont.
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