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The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant
by Michel Tremblay
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J’avais envie de lire ce roman parce que mon copain vit sur le boulevard St-Joseph à quelques blocs de l’Académie des Saints-Anges. Tout au long de ma lecture, j’ai entendu ma grand-mère dire “du pauvre monde.” Même si le Québec de la Grande noirceur est bien connu dans l’imaginaire populaire, se plonger dans la pauvreté des familles ouvrières du Plateau demeure frappant ! J’ai particulièrement apprécié le traitement très sensible et le rôle central des personnages féminins et marginalisés. Albertine et la “grosse femme” sont particulièrement tragiques - l’une pour l’amertume qui la ronge, l’autre pour sa capacité à rêver et à s’évader. La touche de réalisme magique élève aussi le récit.
J’ai choisi de donner 4/5 au roman parce que je n’ai pas été captivée, mais j’ai tout de même envie d’en découvrir plus - en particulier sur Nana, la “grosse femme”, et sa grande traversée du continent !
this is an interesting look at an odd group of neighbours in Montreal, during WWII. Tremblay is very astute - his poignant and powerful commentary on social, gender, religious and political issues has moments that hit quite deeply. the story offers POVs from several different characters and i enjoyed this (what a cast of eccentrics tremblay has created!), but i did lament not getting to know a couple of characters - who were standouts for me - a bit better. i felt the summaries at the end were a bit too rushed, puling certain lives into focus for us from beyond the end of the book. at certain points during the read, i felt a couple of characters were worthy of their own novels, rather than being a small part of this work. perhaps characters will further develop as the series goes on? as i have gone on about before when i have encountered her, Sheila Fischman is an awesome translator.
Really good; different. You get perspectives of all the different pregnant women on the street and see their tough lives and struggles. Even the local cat and the family of ghosts is given some narrative space. From old to young, happy to miserable, male and female, all of life's realities and hardships come through.
It never did answer why those ghosts are there, though...
The budding of spring, a time for enlightenment and new beginnings, casts the mood for this beautiful and haunting tale told through magical realism, and reverent love for family, a place and a time. Michel Tremblay’s passion for his beginnings is shared with us through a day in the life of the residents of la rue Fabre in the heart of Montreal in the ‘40s, with the fat lady next door paying homage to his beloved mother.
The mystical sisters, Rose, Violette and Mauve, have sat in their rocking chairs knitting booties for generations of the past, and persevere for seven babies soon to be, the magical triple clicking of their needles a necessity for continuum. Helplessly driven by a predetermined pattern, they are merely observers to the struggles of their tormented neighbours, as they sit with instruments in their hands and compassion in their hearts.
The eccentric and opposing personalities Tremblay presents us with intermingle through the pages amidst their willful ignorance, blinding judgements, and suffocating shame. These transgressions, perpetuated by the shadow of a stifling religion, a begrudged war, combined with a lack of imagination, serve to disquiet them as they struggle to find their footing on the soft ground of the changing season.
The Fat Women Next Door is Pregnant although brimming with delicious prose, did prove to be a difficult read at times. The compilation of 22 distinctly different, three-dimensional characters – a supercilious cat, a matriarchal witch, the she-wolf of Ottawa – and a writing style with no regard to paragraphs or a properly referenced dialogue, left my head swirling on more than one occasion. Seemingly each and every character begged to have their depth explored and their connection with the reader furthered, and as such, I think the story would have been better served as an elaborate, 800-page epic.
Aside from this, I came away from the novel with the feeling that ‘family’ is the true essence of our being, as through all of the chaos and ridicule that can be found on these pages, the love that emits from this clan is a fortress of undeniable strength and authenticity. By the end of the story you’re sure to have a fondness in your heart for the fat woman next door.
It is the glorious second day of May, 1942. The sun is drawing the damp from earth still heavy with the end of a long Quebec winter, the budding branches of the trees along rue Fabre and in Parc Lafontaine of the Plateau Mont Royal ache to release their leaves into the warm, clear air heralding the approach of summer. Seven women in this raucous Francophone working-class Montreal neighbourhood are pregnant--only one of them, "the fat woman," is bearing a child of true love and affection. Next door to the home that is by times refuge, asylum, circus-arena, confessional and battleground to her extended family, with ancient roots in both rural Quebec and the primordial land of the Saskatchewan Cree, stands an immaculately kept but seemingly empty house where the fates, Rose, Mauve, Violet and their mother Florence, only ever fleetingly and uncertainly glimpsed by those in a state of emotional extremis, are knitting the booties of what will become the children of a whole new nation. In this first of six novels that became his Chronicles of the Plateau Mont Royal, Tremblay allows his imagination free reign, fictionalizing the lives of his beloved characters, dramatized so brilliantly in his plays and remembered so poignantly in his memoirs."The fat woman" both is and is not Michel Tremblay's mother--her extended family and neighbours more than a symbol of a colonized people: abandoned and mocked by France; conquered and exploited by England; abused and terrorized by the Church; and forced into a war by Canada supporting the very powers that have crushed their spirit and twisted their souls since time immemorial. This is a "divine comedy" of the extraordinary triumphs and tragedies of ordinary people caught up by circumstances that span the range of the ridiculous to the sublime.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813Literature English (North America) American fiction
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An edition of this book was published by Talonbooks.
humorous and touching story of seven pregnant women