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Bonheur d'occasion

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  1,742 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Dans le quartier montréalais de Saint-Henri, un peuple d'ouvriers et de petits employés canadiens-français est désespérement en quête de bonheur. Florentine croit avoir trouvé le sien dans l'amour ; Rose-Anna le cherche dans le bien-être de sa famille ; Azarius fuit dans le rêve ; Emmanuel s'enrole ; Jean entreprend son ascension sociale. Chacun, à sa manière, invente sa p ...more
464 pages
Published 1945 by Boréal
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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
My mother tells us, her children, that when my younger brother was around six years old she was with him one time walking along a city sidewalk when my brother saw a nice toy being peddled by a street vendor. He must have wanted such a toy for a long time, as toys were a luxury in our poor household, that he calls her attention and says mother, that's a nice toy isn't it? My mother said yes, it is a nice toy. Then my brother adds, but we can't buy it because we don't have money? Yes, we can't, w ...more
Originally titled Bonheur d'occasion (trans. Second-hand Happiness), The Tin Flute is the vivid story of the working poor in Quebec during World War II. The story begins with the eldest daughter, Florentine, who works in the Five and Ten in order to help support her parents. She falls for a machinist, Jean, who agrees to date her merely to benefit himself. His friend, Emmanuel, in the meantime, falls for Florentine who has eyes only for Jean. As the Afterword (Philip Stratford) mentions, Florent ...more
Orla Hegarty
This book is an important fictionalized version of herstory that sadly reflects many of the same issues we have in society today.
Margaret Virany
Gabrielle Roy has marvelous powers of description that make winter wind, snow, cold and choking city smoke descend and engulf the reader as well as her fictional characters. Just as invasive are her powers of discernment which take the reader right inside the thoughts and desperation of a family caught inside the slums of Montreal during the depression that preceded world war two. This is a Canadian classic, one of the finest books ever written. However, don't expect to lift your head from its l ...more
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I very much enjoyed this peek into life in a Montreal neighbourhood in the 1940s. Well-drawn characters (particularly Florentine, her mother Rose-Anna, and the elusive Jean). A simple story, but complex layers of emotion and enough depth to make it an engrossing read. I'm very surprised that I've never
heard of this book before; it really should be on all of our high school English reading lists. I wavered about the rating, almost gave it a perfect 5, then settled for a more comfortable 4. Well w
I read the English version of this novel as part of a Canadian Literature class in University and fell in love with it. As a rule, my favorite works of fiction are character driven, and this novel has one of the most compassionate renderings of character I have ever read.

The novel deals with the struggles of the French working class in Montreal in the early years of Canada's involvement in World War II, and is set in the winter of 1940. It concentrates on Florentine Lacasse and her family as the
Dirck de Lint
I should rather pull a toe off than read this book again. It's no more than a catalogue of misery without redemption, and while it may be realistic, it's nothing I need to be told about in careful detail. I had feared that this was an artifact of translation, but apparently it can move people the same way in the original language; I finish with the perfect summation from this review:

Livre obligatoire à l'école. C'est supposément un classique mais j'ai trouvé ça atrocement plate.

Living in Montreal and "looking down" on St. Henri from my perch on the right side of the tracks made this a must read. The book is well written but it it so depressing. There is absolutely no hope for those caught in the cycle of poverty that pervades St. Henri circa WW2. I had trouble sleeping on those nights that I read it before bed. I just couldn't get over the frustration of watching people make poor decisions over and over. No faith, no future and no redemption in St. Henri.
Heartbreaking and beautiful. There's a reason the classics are classics, and this one is no exception. It's a detailed portrait of a specific neighbourhood (Montreal's St-Henri) in a specific time period (WWII), but tells of universal truths of love, family, youth and ageing, and dealing with hardships of various types. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because the translation is a bit clumsy at times - I know it's very difficult to translate intensely descriptive passages, but it pull ...more
I have a feeling this isn't the best translation of the book -- some passages, especially dialogue, sounded a bit awkward, perhaps too literally rendered. That said, Roy's characters are some of the most real and convincing I've read in a long time, which I think is especially rare in a social realist novel. A heart-breaking book. Obviously why it's a Canadian classic.
Perhaps I wasn't in the mood for a novel that many consider a classic of Canadian literature or perhaps I just wasn't particularly interested in the plot, but I didn't love Gabrielle Roy's The Tin Flute. Originally published in 1945, I found the story and style dated and rather difficult get into--I wasn't emotionally invested in the trials and tribulations of Florentine Lacasse, whose story is central to the tale of the family. While I can appreciate her dilemma, I found it difficult to relate ...more
Relu Bonheur d'occasion que je n'avais pas vraiment aime lors d'une premiere lecture dans mon jeune temps! Trop miserabiliste a mon gout alors.
A la relecture, portrait assez juste de la misere de l'epoque. Un classique quebecois
It's like reading Zola's Germinal ... but in a 20th century and North American style.
S.D. Johnson
A devastating portrait of poverty in Québec during the second world war. I picked this book up after reading Sartre thinking it would be lighter but I had to grapple not only with the joual in the dialogue but Roy actually employed a much larger vocabulary than Sartre. And this novel was at least as depressing as Sartre! It is a great work though & apparently it inspired great social change in Québec, & I can see why. It is one of the saddest and yet unflinching portraits of poverty I ha ...more
Timothy Bazzett
I can't remember how I ran across THE TIN FLUTE, but I'm certainly glad I did. Gabrielle Roy's 1945 novel represents the best of old-fashioned but literate story-telling. In writing about the slums of Montreal and the desperate struggles of one poverty-ridden hard-luck family in the early years of WWII, Roy was writing about a time and a place she knew well, and created what was to become a classic of Canadian literature. There is not much of the sentimental or chick-lit in Roy's story of the La ...more
This book was originally written by Roy in French, and I read a translation by Hannah Josephson. I learned of it at work one day; we had a substitute librarian who is from Canada, and she told me that this is her favorite book. She told me that the original French title translates to "Secondhand Happiness" which I feel would have been a more fitting name for the book.

It's about a family (Lacasse) at poverty level in Montreal at the beginning of World War II. The city has many destitute citizens,
I thoroughly loved this book. Written originally in French by a Canadian, I read it in my French Literature in Translation Class. And, I thoroughly loved it. This is strange because I usually don't like the books for this class. It is a story about a tough, calculating young woman from the wrong side of the Toronto tracks at the beginning of WWII, who sets her cap for a young man she meets. During the telling of her story, there are good discussions of war and war rescuing people from a failing ...more
Ruby St-Fleur
Étant Montréalaise,jeter un coup d'oeil sur la vie québécoise d'antan fut plutôt intéressant. Malgré les descriptions,par moment,trop abondante, Gabrielle Roy a su garder mon intérêt. Sans aucun doute, Bonheur d'occasion est un roman qui restera avec moi. Marquant.
From my observations made at the time:

Go and read [this:]. It's a great book...and was totally deserving of the Governor-General's Award for Fiction. There was one part where I was about to cry it was so good, but as I was reading at my desk at the time I didn't want to look stupid. *whistles; rolls eyes* And when I was reading it there were some moments where I did an English-class-overanalysis-personality-shift thing and started looking at the events as symbolic. Basically this means when I re
It is by far my favorite book. I loved how Gabrielle Roy was able to describe the tough reality of the working class in Montréal at that time, without romanticizing it - just the hard, unfair reality.
Czarny Pies
Nov 03, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Tout francophone d'Amérique du Nord
Recommended to Czarny by: Ma mere
Il y a eu Maria Chapdelaine. Ensuite il y a eu le silence. Et puis, tout d'un coup ce roman de la Franco-Manitobaine Gabrielle Roy est arrivé sur la scene pour finallement decrire la vie d'une femme quebecoise du milieu ouvrier et urbain. Bonheur d'occasion constitue bel et bien le debut de la literature moderne de Québec. C'est un des grands oeuvres incontournables que tout francophone d'Amérique devra lire.
Lately I've been reading tons of academic histories on Montreal, and those are useful to be sure. But as an outsider trying to understand the history and culture of the city, I find that novels give me a different view: one that is less factual but more "real."

"The Tin Flute" is a vivid portrait of one down-and-out French Canadian neighborhood in Montreal set just as the Great Depression is ending and World War II is beginning. It's a classic. A whole mentality and texture of life are woven into
Maria Elisabeth
I'm still not sure how I feel about The Tin Flute, but I do know that it deserved all the prizes it got.
Laura Klinkon
A Canadian classic, could have been written by Balzac or Zola. Wonderful character analysis.
This novel placed during the second world war in Montreal (in Quebec), written by a canadian writer, changed Quebec's society. It made the Quebecers took a long hard look at themselves and litteraly changed their society, which was later called the "smooth evolution". The book shows how far we've come and how much these changes were very much needed. The book talks about a typical french-canadian family living in Montreal, and like all the French-Canadians of that period (99.9%), the family is v ...more
À partir du destin peu reluisant d'une petite waitress de cantine, Gabrielle Roy n'évoque pas seulement la profonde misère de la condition canadienne-française d'antan, mais bien au-delà, cet ultime élan de l'Empire Britannique alors que celui-ci s'apprête à se ruiner pour de bon en défendant ses valeurs contre le totalitarisme.

"Elle s'évertuerait tellement à mettre dans sa vie toutes les apparences du bonheur, que le bonheur y viendrait faire sa place."

"Était-ce pendant une soirée qu'elle avai
Quelle histoire triste, mais elle devait être ainsi pour honnêtement capturer et décrire la réalité de tant de personnes et de familles pauvres au Québec au début de la deuxième guerre mondiale. Une oeuvre très bien écrite, l'auteure reste fidèle à son but en n'inventant aucune joie soudaine et purement litéraire, plutôt que réaliste, dans la vie de tous les jours des ses personnages. Cette histoire laisse le lecteur complètement déprimé du début à la fin, mais pourtant démontre que l'espoir de ...more
Lauren Davis
One of my favorite books. Made me want to be a writer.
Joliment écrit, mais l'histoire et les personnages sont assez plats. Un récit pas mal cliché de pauvres qui s'évertuent futilement à sortir de leur misère.
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Gabrielle Roy was born in March 1909 in Saint-Boniface, Manitoba, the youngest of eleven children. Her mother and father, then, were relatively old at the time of her birth -- 42 and 59 respectively. Like Christine's father in Rue Deschambault (Street of Riches), Léon Roy worked as a colonisation officer for the Department of Immigration, a position he held between 1897 and 1915. His politically m ...more
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“la pauvreté est comme un mal qu'on endort en soi et qui ne donne pas trop de douleur, à condition de ne pas trop bouger. On s’y habitue, on finit par ne plus y prendre garde tant qu’on reste avec elle tapie dans l’obscurité; mais qu'on s'avise de la sortir au grand jour, et on s'effraie, on la voit enfin, si sordide qu'on hésite à l'exposer au soleil.
(Ch. XIII)”
“-Oui, l'argent, tonna le patron. Y en avait pas pour les vieux, ni pour les écoles, ni pour les orphelins, ni pour donner de l'ouvrage au monde. Mais à c'te heure marque ben qu'il y en a pour la guerre. A se trouve à c'te heure, l'argent.
-A se trouve toujours en effette pour la guerre, répliqua Azarius.”
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