28 November 2010

Street of Riches by Gabrielle Roy

Thoughts and Reflections:
I love this book. I'd been meaning to read Gabrielle Roy for some time, but her name forever seemed to slip from my memory when I was requesting books from the library... I was given Street of Riches for my birthday this year and promptly picked it up for a read. At first I was a bit put off by the setting: a seemingly uninteresting family home in sleepy St Boniface. However, I was quickly caught up in the peregrinations and live explorations of Catherine, our young protagonist.

The book covers some rather heavy themes and I deeply appreciated the language and the honesty with which the author discussed the themes. Death and loss were consistent themes. Catherine loses her sister, her father, and her neighbour, each through different situations. Each death impacts her differently and the author explores life through these deaths. Catherine is also exposed to the restlessness of her mother, who at one point uproots her and takes her away, leaving her father behind. Through this experience, the author explores what is valuable in life, what is important, and what is worth keeping. 

Ultimately, the honesty through which Gabrielle Roy explores life is striking. She uses language amazingly to express each moment brilliantly. I could fully relate to each instance. Whilst the protagonist almost felt as a minor player, her moments and experiences are vivid and real. I loved this book thoroughly and will certainly add it to my list of top recommendations! I also look forward to reading more of her works in the upcoming months! 

Brief Synopsis:
This book is a collection of stories from the viewpoint of a young girl, Catherine, growing up in St Boniface, Manitoba. The reader learns the lesson of life along with the growing girl, suffers her losses, and explores life in general with this growing girl. Interestingly, the appears to be partially autobiographical. The novel was written in 1955 and won the Governor General's Award in 1957.

About the Author:
Gabrielle Roy was born in St Boniface, Manitoba in 1909. She attended Winnipeg Normal School, teaching in a number of smaller communities before teaching at Provencher School in St Boniface. She spent some time in Europe prior to WWII before returning to Canada to settle in Quebec, sketching and writing. Her first book, Bonheur d'occasion was published in 1945. Gabrielle Roy married Marcel Carbotte in 1947 and spent a number of years living and working in Europe. The couple eventually returning to Canada, living in Quebec City. Gabrielle Roy died in 1983. She is considered to be one of the most important Francophone and influential Canadian authors. 

Things I Loved about this Book:
1. The themes -I loved the discussion about such intense themes, themes that are so real in everyone's life
2. The setting -I admit, I will forever have a soft spot in my heart for Manitoba
3. The language -There are many phrases and paragraphs and chapters that so perfectly capture a moment, a though, an experience. I felt the urge to copy out certain phrases for their perfection and depth. The author was certainly a master of her language and I am thankful for a brilliant translation!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We are reading this book in French class... I agree with most of the things said here, however if I fail the course because of the book... it will claim the shelf labeled 'most hated' in my room.