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Une saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel
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Une saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  564 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Dans un monde hostile et froid, des enfants cherchent, à l'ombre de leur grand-mère toute-puissante, à préserver coûte que coûte le feu de leur rébellion et de leur désir d'innocence.
Paperback, 164 pages
Published 2010 by Boréal (first published 1965)
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3.23  · 
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 ·  564 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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I have mixed feelings about this novel.

Firstly, I can certainly see why it's considered an important book in Canadian literature. I'm glad I read it.

However, I cannot say that I particularly enjoyed it.

It is not that it is dark, which it truly is - the lives these children are living is abysmal. I enjoy the dark and the macabre very much.

I think, in part, I do not have the historical knowledge of Quebec in this time frame to contextualize the book properly. I was grateful for the Afterword by Ni
Oct 20, 2018 rated it liked it
2.5 stars!
Megan Baxter
So, this certainly was a book. Part of the Canadian 100. Huh. It's...a little overwrought. Strange. Perhaps strangest of all was the introduction (not by the author) insisting that this book was not overwrought, that it was an accurate representation of pre-Quiet Revolution rural Quebec. She was quite insistent, taking Robertson Davies to task for a review where he apparently said that Blais had talent, but maybe she should try toning down the bombast next time.

Note: The rest of this review has
Jul 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have now read this book twice because of the subtle humour that satisfies me so much. I shan't summarize because you can read the book yourself, but I will identify a couple of things that make this book stand out: 1) timelessness - the book is a parody of a Quebec "novel of the land," like Louis Hemon's Maria Chapdelaine (think of a depressing, Quebecois version of Anne of Green Gables). But in A Season in the Life of Emmanuel, there is no real indication of a specific time and place. We read ...more
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
A gem of a story showing the grip of the Catholic Church on the people in Quebec. It is a story of poverty, abuse and death with the eternal hope of better times with the new life of the baby Emmanuel. They characters are strongly presented from the iron fisted grandmother who rules the family to the tubercular Jean le Maigre who enjoys his small life and writes about the misery with humor. A son called only Number 7 is the family drunk seeking his escape in booze and sex. A daughter sent to the ...more
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like everything else I've read by Blais, this is a short novel, essentially a novella. Also like the other works of hers I have read, there is a great deal of lyric symbolism with strong neo-Gothic overtones. It is a dark, moody piece, but there are shafts of light here and there, a good bit of humor, especially in the first half of the book. The poverty, sexual predation and desperation, the Roman Catholic guilt and hope, all of it works together well in this minor masterpiece of Quebecois fict ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marie-Claire Blais spells out the tragedy of being an uneducated French-Canadian Catholic in an early 20th century village in Canadian. Extreme poverty, 16 children, field work, cows, freezing weather outside, little fire wood for indoor heat, lack of food, rags for clothes, constant illness, maternal depression, daily beatings, violent father, arson, rape, self-mutilation, suicide, reformatories, convents, priests preying upon the young put in their care et cetera. Not a pretty picture, for her ...more
Daniel Kukwa
That was...odd? Disturbing? A rural Quebec acid trip? I'm not sure what this is, but the society it paints makes me shudder. The only thing I found engrossing, from start to finish, was the character of Grande-Mere, but even she is subsumed by the weight of everything around her. Ok...I'm settling on disturbing.
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(view spoiler) ...more
Don Andrews
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a gem. From the first paragraph, I was captivated. I finished it in one reading and went back to the bookstore and bought it in French. It took me longer to finish it that time, but it was equally rewarding. It is on my list of favorite novels.
One word: bleak.

All right, this book deserves more than one word. It is very much of its time (a 1960s description of, and attack on, pre-Quiet Revolution rural life in Quebec, nasty, brutal, and Church-dominated), but it also has a poetry about it. That's particularly true in the inset autobiographical narrative by Jean Le Maigre, one of baby Emmanuel's 15 siblings, and the real protagonist of most of the novel, until his predictable death about 2/3 of the way through. Jean is a dreamer and a w
I am really at a loss of how to rate this book.
I can understand that it is very important book in Canadian literature.
I did not enjoy reading it.
It is about a family with 16 children, in a family that cannot support them. Not all the children are identified, and one child is referred to simply as Number 7.
The social conditions, and the influence of the Catholic church have devastating consequences to these children, but they are presented factually and dispassionately, which I just could not
Oct 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, canada
It would be very difficult for someone who is not French-Canadian to write this novel. The mood is quite authentic; I see that Blais was convent-educated herself and I think she knows even more than she has written.

This is one of the darkest books I've ever read, which is really saying something. Blais spares the reader in some respects by drawing a veil of words over terrible situations but that veil is quite thin. Imagine a life not just guided but ruled by the concepts of sin and you have the
Sandra Miksa
One of the best French books I've read.

It contains lots of rhetorical figures and taboo themes that are important to read and acknowledge.
A great realist feel to Quebec culture and history with the cold and the involvement of the church in every day life.

Also, Blais has well depicted the issues within a rural family and their rejection to the growing urban world in the 40's and 50's.

Overall an enticing read about cringe worthy matters with complex and morally grey characters, such as Grand-M
Andrea Ibañez
Jan 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-for-school
I don't really like the "Romans du terroir", but this book really impressed me because it was completely different at what I was expecting, it definitely belongs to the modern era, it really puts in perspective people's ideologies on the 1900, and what I liked was the whole idea of showing the dark side of the idealized Roman du Terroir's climax, what I didn't appreciated was that the author mentioned some information that she didn't explained later by adding details, which really bothered me be ...more
Jan 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this a lot more than Mad Shadows. It has all of the good aspects of Blais's debut - the intelligence and strong symbolism and vivid description - but with an added streak of dark humor running through it. The satirical edge compensates somewhat for the utter bleakness of the story (whereas Mad Shadows was simply, unrelentingly bleak). I've never seen much appeal in romans du terroir, but I can get on board with the anti-terroir.
Feb 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Dismal. a season in the life of a child (one of sixteen) living in poverty and Catholicism prior to the 1960's in rural Quebec. Bestial,macabre and probably disturbingly close to the truth. The story follows the grim fate of three of the children as they're put into the hands of the church. this book won several awards in French speaking culture but why the author would continue in the same genre and style of writing one has to wonder. One has to wonder about her personality. Shivers!
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Irreverent, sly, and deals with the saddest stuff--grinding poverty, illiteracy, many levels and types of abuse. Sheds piercing light on pre-Quiet Revolution Quebec. A breezy read through the eyes and heads of a number of family members--Emmanuel, Grandmother, Seven, Jean le Maigre, Heloise. It was a good experience to get acquainted with this world. Not sure if it will propel me to read more of Marie-Claire Blais, though.
Apr 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Excellent, excellent, excellent!

Brilliant French-Canadian novel about sinful human nature encompassing such themes as adolescent sexuality, incest, pride, priests' love lives, homosexuality, gluttony, and much more.

Highly realistic and often times tainted with gore, it is the most engrossing protrayal of human nature, yet raises many questions within readers.

A short but sweet read that'll have you thinking and getting interested to learn more about French-Canadian history.
Aug 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Set in old-time rural Quebec, also set in darkness and in dreams and in Jean Le Maigre's head, one of the most memorable characters in Quebec litterature. It's a tale of winter and despair but also just a plain fun story, with the brothers laughing and reciting bad poetry while cutting a potato in 16 pieces to feed the 16 children. Not to be missed.
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The writing is uncanny and beautiful--with a minimalist, poetic quality. The events recounted are cruel, but the tone is at times light, at times amusing. An original work, with a touch of genius. A neglected classic.
Jan 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Just started this last night (Dec. 6, 2009). Wonderful glimpse into poor, rural post-war family life. Emmanuel is the 16th child, whose mother gives birth in the morning, then goes to work on the farm all day.
Feb 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Pages and pages of misery with humour laced in to lighten the burden. Poverty, oppression of the RC church, poor education, unforgiving weather and yet they all strive to survive. Admirable, piercingly written, captured a painful period of Quebec history.
The writing was really good. The book covered topics that were actually happening in Quebec during the Depression. The book was really good in a weird way.
Ark of Books
School work. Again. Meh.
Robin Edman
Oct 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Imagine Marcel Proust somehow developing his leisurely writing style while living in abject poverty. That is this book.
Aug 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, en-français
Read for my Quebecois Lit class in college
Jul 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
A season in the life of Emmanuel, in English, of course!
Aug 02, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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Marie-Claire Blais naît à Québec en 1939. Elle publie à l’âge de vingt ans un premier roman, La Belle Bête, dans lequel elle analyse avec une âpre lucidité les ressorts psychologiques d’une relation violente, pleine de haine et d’envie, entre une jeune femme trop laide et son frère, simple d’esprit mais si beau que l’on ne voit que lui. Cette violence, cette sauvagerie resteront présentes dans tou ...more