Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Children of My Heart - Gabrielle Roy

The Basics: Children of My Heart, Gabrielle Roy, 1979 (English translation), 171 pages, hard cover.

How I found it: When the CBC's list for the 2007 Canada Reads event came out, Roy's novel was named as one of the five books debated. It will be defended by Denise Bombardier. I requested all of the Canada Reads books from the library and this one was available first.

What's it about?: The narrator is a school teacher in Depression-era rural Manitoba. The three parts of the book are divided into telling about her experiences at three different schools. The book is a series of vignettes about the children that serves to explain the character development of the teacher protagonist. Apparently the book is a thinly veiled and fictionalized memoir of Roy's real experiences as a teacher.

Did I like it?: To me this was more of a Chicken Soup for the Teacher's Soul than a novel. The stories about the kids were well-written and endearing, but they didn't really drive any sort of plot. The character development of the teacher is present, but it doesn't really seem to go anywhere. As with all books I read in translation, I will try to blame the translation for anything I didn't like about the book. That way I can use the excuse that the author's true meaning wasn't conveyed.

Will you like it?: If you are reading the Canada Reads books this one is not too bad, but I don't think it is the winner. I'm not a Gabrielle Roy fan, but The Tin Flute is a much better read if you must read Roy.

But don't take my word for it: More info about the books from the Canada Reads site and book info and a collection of editorial reviews from are all that seems to be available.

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