Sunday, February 04, 2007

Reader's Diary #226- Gabrielle Roy: Children of My Heart (up to part II)

If the title of this book seems a little sentimental, it's a good representation of the stories within. While Roy does touch upon a few weighty issues, Children of My Heart still seems like Chicken Soup for The Teacher's Soul. As a teacher, I do appreciate these stories on one level. I've been faced with similar situations; parents who are a little less than understanding, a lot less helpful, and students who are challenging to say the least. I've also had wonderful moments; students revealing hidden talents, breakthroughs when something suddenly clicks, and simple notes telling me I'm appreciated. For all of that, Roy's prose undersells these moments with dribble. Maybe a non-teacher would be grateful to be let in to this world. Maybe those middle-aged cardigan wearing, wooden apple-pinned teachers would tear up at Roy's words. Maybe the Canada Reads panelists will decide it's a great homage to the nation's educators. For me though, it feels old-fashioned, slightly boring, and overwrought.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I've never read any Gabrielle Roy, and I don't think that I would be inclined to start with this particular book. Have you read much of her stuff before?

John Mutford said...

Actually, upon rereading my post, it's not as bad as I've suggested. And yes, I did read (and like) The Tin Flute.

Allison said...

I just finished reading The Tin Flute and really enjoyed it. I haven't read anything else by her though.

John Mutford said...

Outside of Quebec, I don't think the majority of English speakers are familiar with anything besides the Tin Flute. Until Canada Reads, I could say the same. Another great thing about the program.

Lily said...

Hi there, thanks for sharing your thoughts on "Stanley Park" on my blog. I enjoyed reading your thoughts about it. I didn't mind the financial details given as it is part of many artists lives that decide to stick to their guns when it comes to creativity.

As for " The Tin Flute", I read the narrators voice as one of very nostalgic. Roy was pretty close to the end of her life when writing it and I think it was her last book. Its the type of warm and fuzzy, "in retrospect, it was all for the best" talk that comes at the end of journey.

So, those are the two Canada read books I have read so far this season. Please tell me which one you recommend next.

As a Canadian Expat, Canada Reads is very important and special to me. Maybe I am less critical for that reason- often the environment, the writing style, the character get me all sensitive and I can relate to these works more so than other works of literature.

I think Volkswagon Blues was the only one I couldn't relate to so well but I haven't read all the books discussed in every season.

Cheers to you.

John Mutford said...

Hi Lily,
I definitely understand the financial strain artists must endure. I know the "starving artist" idea is not just a myth.
Still I thought Taylor belaboured the point.

I'm not sure about your Tin Flute comments. I think you must mean Children of My Heart since the Tin Flute was written very early in her writing career. But if you are indeed talking about Children I agree, the narrator does come across as nostalgic. Still, a little too warm and fuzzy for my sensitivities!

Which should you read next, eh? That's a toughie. My two favourites were Lullabies for Little Criminals and The Song of Kahunsha. However, the latter wasn't even set in Canada, and seeing as you're an expat, it may not conjure up any fond memories of home. The former, while set in Montreal, focuses on the darker side, so that mightn't do it for you either. That leaves Natasha and Other Stories, which is a good read. Actually, you can't really go wrong with either of those three, they're all great books (though Kahunsha may be a little disturbing.

Canada Reads is very important and special to me, too, trust me! I openly admit I'm a Canada Reads geek. In fact, I've been known to even throw Canada Reads trivia into everyday conversation from time to time. I did like Volkswagen Blues. My least favourite from all the years was Next Episode.