Bonheur d'occasion
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Bonheur d'occasion

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,366 ratings  ·  74 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
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...more
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...more
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.
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.
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,...more
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
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.
On ne sait ce qu'il faut admirer le plus chez Gabrielle Roy: la profondeur de l'analyse psychologique, son art à dépeindre les moindres mouvements de l'âme, ou sa langue riche, d'une merveilleuse précision et, derrière une simplicité et une limpidité apparentes, extrêmement élaborée. Un livre d'une profonde humanité, mais par-dessous tout une langue sobre, pure, d'une admirable beauté, bref une oeuvre majeure de la littérature d'expression française de tous les temps. A lire toutes affaires cess...more
A revealing story of a family in a cycle of poverty in the city of Montreal. Impressed with the translators writing style.
Taro Shijuukara
J'ai lu au sécondaire, et je ne su pas quoi d'y penser. Gabrielle Roy est une excellente auteure, excellente. Cependant, à dix-sept ans je n'ai pas pu lire un roman situé durant la Dépression. Les dépressions, ils sont déprimant.

Read it in high school, and at the time I was mixed about it. Gabrielle Roy writes amazingly. Amazingly. However amazingly enough, though, my 17 year old self wasn't terribly excited about a story set during the depression. Depressions are depressing.
This book just got better and better, as it gradually exposed the characters, portraying how they were molded by the conditions around them. Members of the family each had unique defense mechanisms against their poverty, which developed to become core aspects of their personalities. Written with such descriptive imagery, the people and the scenes formed complete pictures in my mind. The characters evoked a personal response, as I saw them reflect qualities in people I've known.
kras socialrealisme. krig beskrives som en sidste økonomisk mulighed for fattige. personerne er ret nuancerede, om end også stereotype
Catherine Matte
Gabrielle Roy réussie a bien rendre la misère de l'époque. Saint-Henri, la guerre, la dépression, la pauvreté sont bien dépeints. Le roman aurait été excellent, si ce n'eut été des personnages, qui ne sont pas aimables du tout. Florentine est bête comme tout, Jean est inintéressant et Emmanuel est ridicule. Rose-Anna est probablement le personnage le plus intéressant, mais elle n'a qu'une seule dimension: celle de la pauvre femme encrassée dans la misère.
Nov 02, 2007 Lorraine rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Canadian Lit fans
Shelves: classic, canadian
This is the kind of book that should be "studied" to get the most out of it, I think. I read it for pleasure, but it's more of a social commentary cloaked as a novel. And I'm sure it has some very insightful comments, but I (apologetically) did not pay close enough attention to anything outside of the plot. Its commentary is about war and survival and urban Montreal life at the beginning of World War II. I can say I've read it, but I can't say I 'got it.'
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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)”
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