23 November 2012

A 19th-century Céline Dion and Her Horrible Hunchback Husband

'The Lane That Had No Turning'
The Lane That Had No Turning
     and Other Tales Concerning the People of Pontiac
Gilbert Parker
New York: A.L. Burt, 1900

This review now appears, revised and rewritten, in my new book:
The Dusty Bookcase:
A Journey Through Canada's
Forgotten, Neglected, and Suppressed Writing
Available at the very best bookstores and through

Related post:


  1. Enjoyed this, thanks. My post on Parker today is a (Parkeresque?) coincidence. And I concur on the matter of greatest living singers from Quebec.

    I was surprised to find an Anglo-Canadian writing about French-Canadians. I'm curious to know what the French-Canadian take on him is (if there is one). I can imagine French-Canadians preferring one of of their own as a writer of fiction about them. I'm also wondering how you would translate French-inflected English dialogue into French.

    1. I can think of a few other Anglo-Canadians who set stories in French Canada - William Kirby, Duncan Campbell Scott and Thomas B. Costain come first to mind - but I can't see that the favour or disfavour was returned.

      Everyone is supposed to be speaking French in "The Lane That Had No Turning" - so no inflected dialogue. That said, I think Parker errs in making his habitants seem so very English:

      "'Tut,tut, old leather-belly,' said Gingras the shoemaker, whose liquor had mounted high, 'you'll not need to work now.'"

  2. This narrative sounds rather interesting. Whether the book lives up to it is another story altogether.

    Personally, I could have done without the Celine reference. I prefer to substitute her with La Bolduc (which probably makes more sense historically --- although, I don't think she had actually started singing/recording at the time of the book's release.)

    Knuckles G.