English Title: Enchantment and Sorrow
Genre: Autobiography, memoir
Synopsis: Gabrielle Roy is a Quebecoise author who has written countless tales and stories. In her autobiography, she recounts her childhood and how she and her family lived in poverty, her schooling days, and how she later becomes a teacher. After years of remaining in Canada, Roy decides to move to France, and experience a new type of life. There, she meets suitors, friends, and strict administration. Through her realistic language and imagery, Roy allows readers to understand why she is who she is.
Review: I received this book through my university’s bookstore, thanks to my professor ordering it for our French class. The class’s purpose was to read accounts of different French-speaking countries–so if you’re looking to break out of American-centric literature, this might be the book for you! In all honesty, I had to read this book in French, and while I can understand and interpret a good portion of it, I’m sure I missed a lot of information as well. In terms of somebody who is learning the French language and about different cultures, this book expanded my vocabulary and helped me read French more efficiently.
What struck me the most about this novel was the language. There were many quotes that I felt the need to write down because they were so poignant not because of their flowery language, but because of how realistic Roy portrays her past. While there is a tad of nostalgia lingering between the lines, Roy makes it very obvious that her life was filled with hardships and that she worked very hard to get where she is by the end of the book. All in all, this novel was inspiring to me: seeing how one person can go from sickness and poverty to travelling the world and becoming a famous author is an important story for anybody struggling.