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And The Birds Rained Down (2013)

by Jocelyne Saucier(Favorite Author)
4.56 of 5 Votes: 2
1552452689 (ISBN13: 9781552452684)
Coach House Books
review 1: I recommend this very sweet but cock-eyed love story to all English Canadians especially to those living on Highway 11 north of Barrie.The book deals with the survivors of Matheson's Great Fire of 1917. The heat was so intense from this fire that it killed the birds in the air who rained down on the ground below. Two lovers are separated in this fire but are reunited many years later when they are both very old.This novel reminds me of Pietro Mascagini's charming opera L'Amico Fritz about two Alsatian Jews who finally find the courage to declare their love for each other in that both are happy love stories involving lovers in one ethnic community written by someone from outside the community. Film lovers should think of it as being similar to Paddy Chayefsky's great mo... morevie Marty which dealt with love and courtship in New York's catholic community.This book is now available in English under the title 'And the Birds Rained Down'. I find it cheering that an Acadian Quebecker would write such a heart warming, tender story about us.
review 2: This is a lovely book from Coach House Press in Toronto (where noted Canadian writers Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje were first published). It is a translation from the French, first published by Montreal house XYZ. Jocelyne Saucier is from New Brunswick but now lives in the Abitibi region of north-western Quebec, which touches the border of northern Ontario, where this story is set.The story is built around the factual history of a series of catastrophic summer forest fires that devastated many towns and vast areas of land in the first decades of the previous century, wiping out hundreds of families in the process. A photographer from Toronto provides the historical facts and the central narrative voice. She ventures north, seeking the last of the survivors. She wants to take their pictures and hear their recollections (hence the title – a forest fire of that magnitude sucks the oxygen from the air and birds fall like rain). One such survivor from that time has just died. But she finds his two friends beside an isolated lake. The photographer admires these two old men who have made a pact to live out their final days beyond the dehumanizing clutches of bureaucracy. She becomes fascinated with the artwork discovered in the cabin of the man who has just died. An elderly woman, on the lam from a psychiatric hospital in Toronto, brings a feminine charm to the tiny community of “refusniks”. She also has an uncanny ability to see the messages and characters depicted in the discovered paintings – they all hearken back to the fires, depicting a love story stretching from that time to the present. A new love affair between two of these freedom-seeking old citizens starts… The photographer ties the pieces together, even those she cannot see at the conclusion.I cannot speak for the French text, but I can report that Saucier has won several awards for her writing. I can say that the English translation by Rhonda Mullins is beautifully fluid in giving us the details of the land and the humanity of each character. It’s a short (150+ pages) quiet story, with a compassionate and humorous tone. It is a pleasure to find elderly characters who can keep the “action” moving in such a compelling way.5 stars. Beautiful writing. Something different, well done. less
Reviews (see all)
Une belle histoire qui donne envie de solitude et de grands espaces!
Très intéressant. Ça se passe au nord de l'Ontario.
Un excellent roman, le meilleur de Jocelyne Saucier !
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