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10 thoughts on “Bonheur d'occasion

  1. Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly says:

    My mother tells us her children that when my younger brother was around six years old she was with him one time walking along a city sidewalk when my brother saw a nice toy being peddled by a street vendor He must have wanted such a toy for a long time as toys were a luxury in our poor household that he calls her attention and says mother that's a nice toy isn't it My mother said yes it is a nice toy Then my brother adds but we can't buy it because we don't have money Yes we can't we don't have money she says Forty years after it happened my mother still recalls it It must have broken her heart that her son had to be fully conscious of want at such a young age That brother of mine grew up a very frugal man uite unlike my other brother who was shielded from the enfeebling effects of our poverty that he grew up a spendthrift buys books like there is no tomorrow and is as generous as the sun on a hot summer day His grand birthday celebrations are almost always like historical eventsAnyway this is a book by a Canadian author Gabrielle Roy She was born and educated in Manitoba where my only sister who doesn't read anything but her patients' charts is based now What a waste If we can exchange places I most likely would check out where Gabrielle Roy had lived or studied in Manitoba and maybe get an idea where she got the wonderful insights which helped her write this extraordinary novelFlorentine the protagonist is a 19 year old waitress in a small dinerstore She's skinny because she the eldest and her eight siblings have very poor nourishment Her father Azarius is a taxi driver He's in and out of jobs Well meaning and kind he does not have much luck however He has had many grand schemes to earn money which all failed He and his wife Rose Anna are just in their early 40's They live in the slums in Montreal the story is set during the Great Depression just before the second world war Rose Anna is again with a child the 13th pregnancy of her young life Three of her children had died during infancyThere are a lot of novels about the poor and about being poor But what makes this book different I think is the author's remarkable understanding of how the poor thinks and feels She knows how it is to be a young woman in love but poor so that the object of her longing would be both attracted by her beauty and repulsed by her poverty; or how it is to be a mother who love her children but does not have enough to feed and clothe them all properly Details which only those who are poor or had been poor would notice sear the pages of the book There were moments when I felt like taking all of my money from my wallet insert the same inside the book's pages and hope that this poor family can take the cash and spend them for their needsThere are several scenes here that will strike you as so true but I have a favorite because it reminds me of my young brother and the toy our mother couldn't buy for himThe mother Rose Anna decides to leave the house one day to look for a new house they can rent as they are about to be evicted from their present dwelling As she was leaving one of her small children a 6 year old boy named Daniel who is often weak and with a fever unknown to them he has leukemia asks her several times to buy him a tin flute He had long wanted oneRose Anna walked all day but failed to find a house they can afford to rent from the meager budget they have which comes mostly from Florentine's wages and her husband's if he has work On her way home pregnant hungry and tired Rose Anna decides to drop by the dinerstore where Florentine works She asks only for a cup of coffee to perk her up a little but Florentine knows her mother is hungry and gets her a chicken meal which costs only forty centson sale that day and insists that she eats it As Rose Anna was eating all she could think of is how expensive the meal is and with forty cents she can prepare something at home plentiful and filling After eating the chicken meal Florentine also serves her a piece of pie which Rose Anna would not have eaten had Florentine not told her that the pie is already included in the chicken meal Later as Rose Anna was about to leave Florentine also gave her two dollars the tips she had earned for the day Then Florentine saw her mother's piteous beaten look full of gratitude and admiration She saw her mother rise painfully and leave skirting the counters and stopping here and there to touch an object or feel a piece of materialHer mother Rose Anna seemed very old to her She moved slowly and her tight coat made her stomach bulge out With two extra dollars hidden deep in her bag the bag held close to her side she was less sure of herself than before Pots and pans bolts of material all the things she had long denied herself the privilege of looking at fascinated her Countless yearnings swelled within her but she went steadily on her way the money that had given rise to them buried in her pocketbook Certainly she was poorer now than when she had entered the storeAs she watched this silent drama all Florentine's joy was turned to bitterness The rapture she had felt in being generous and unselfish gave way to a sense of aching frustration It had been a total loss completely useless It was a drop of water in the desert of their livesAt the other end of the store Rose Anna had stopped at the toy counter and picked up a little tin flute As a salesgirl approached however she put it down hastily and Florentine knew that Daniel's desire for the flute would never be any closer to realization than this Her mother's good intention was uickly suppressed Likewise between her desire to help Rose Anna and the peace of mind her mother would probably never have nothing would be left but the aching memory of a good intention If she alone could escape from their narrow life that would be a great achievement but even for her it was very hard She would have been happy to take her family with her and raise them also to a position of ease and comfort but she knew that it was useless to think of itShe forced herself to smile at her mother who seemed to be asking her advice 'Should I buy the flute the pretty little toy flute or should I buy stockings underwear food Which is important A flute like a ray of sunshine for a sick child a happy flute to make sounds of joy or food on the table Tell me which is important Florentine'Florentine brought herself to smile once as Rose Anna deciding at length to leave the store waved goodbye but by that time she was ready to rip all her good intentions to shreds like a useless rag

  2. El El says:

    Originally titled Bonheur d'occasion trans Second hand Happiness The Tin Flute is the vivid story of the working poor in uebec during World War II The story begins with the eldest daughter Florentine who works in the Five and Ten in order to help support her parents She falls for a machinist Jean who agrees to date her merely to benefit himself His friend Emmanuel in the meantime falls for Florentine who has eyes only for Jean As the Afterword Philip Stratford mentions Florentine was Gabrielle Roy's first and foremost character for the story but Florentine's mother Rose Anna pushed her way into the story and was there to stay Lucky for us the readers as Rose Anna is truly the heart and soul of the entire story There would be no Florentine without Rose Anna nor would Florentine's many siblings exist Mother holds the story together She is the glueThe story is told from the perspectives of the different characters and because of this the reader walks away feeling a little bruised around the edges Not since Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath have I finished a book feeling like I've just suffered with an entire family Like Steinbeck did for the American literary landscape of the Great Depression so does Gabrielle Roy for the Canadian slums of Montreal of World War II The characters could be real people with real reactions and real hopes and real fears The situations though perhaps dated at times are not too far removed from the ones imagined by most contemporary readersWonderful story deserving of its place on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list But if a happy ending is ones goal for picking up this book you will be sorely disappointed Life isn't always a bushel of cherries

  3. Elizabeth (Alaska) Elizabeth (Alaska) says:

    This is a book that got stronger as I read further into it The novel takes place right at the end of the depression and the beginning of WWII The LaCosse family at the center of the novel has gotten poorer as the years and the children added up It was this poverty that that prevailedShe was brooding over the fact that poverty is like a pain dormant and not unbearable as long as you don't move about too much You grow used to it you end up by paying no attention to it But once you presume to bring it out in the daylight it becomes terrifying you see it at last in all its sualor and you shrink from exposing it to the sunI might have wanted from the prose and I was tempted to blame the translator Then I remembered that I'm not likely to give the translator credit when I do like the prose so maybe I should treat them fairly I might have wanted a bit in terms of characterization but those became clearer as I got deeper into the novel I never really felt comfortable never felt connected to the characters or invested in the future that was being revealed Still I couldn't put it down for the last 50 pages I needed to know how all of the issues were resolved I wanted to like it but it's just a strong 3 stars for me

  4. ☯Emily Ginder ☯Emily Ginder says:

    Oh so readable so heartbreaking so thought provokingWhat is the conseuences of destitution on a family How does it affect one's psyche The author of this book shows the devastating affects of poverty on one family but the author does it in a loving way I read this book through many tearsAnother theme is war Why do the poor fight It can't for loyalty to the country who has crushed their dreams in the past Who benefits from war Is it the soldiers or is the ones who stay home and make money The book was originally written in French but my translation is so good that I found it hard to believe it wasn't written in English Highly recommended

  5. Margaret Virany Margaret Virany says:

    Gabrielle Roy has marvelous powers of description that make winter wind snow cold and choking city smoke descend and engulf the reader as well as her fictional characters Just as invasive are her powers of discernment which take the reader right inside the thoughts and desperation of a family caught inside the slums of Montreal during the depression that preceded world war two This is a Canadian classic one of the finest books ever written However don't expect to lift your head from its last page feeling any optimistic about life than you did before

  6. Orla Hegarty Orla Hegarty says:

    This book is an important fictionalized version of herstory that sadly reflects many of the same issues we have in society today

  7. MargaretDH MargaretDH says:

    What an interesting dive into the slums of Montreal at the end of the Depressionbeginning of the Second World War Roy takes us into the lives of a family struggling to survive constantly moving from house to house and working dead end low paying or humiliating jobs I loved that Roy didn't try and make poverty uplifting or a conduit to a life of noble purity It's just grinding and terrible and makes people hurt one another and backs them into corners with no good way out Yet her characters still retain their inherent dignity and humanity I also appreciated the look into uebecois politics around joining up which were uite different than the rest of Canada

  8. C. C. says:

    I am of two poles like Gabrielle Roy Winnipeg born with everything we needed but our parents struggled I encountered one distant resemblance to the Lacasses of “The Tin Flute” the most destitute family about whom I've read Not hitting the right career and financial plan in the beginning was like a tire that kept puncturing a black hole Throw money at the Lacasses and it got sucked up One of the reasons this award winning début receives three stars from me is disbelief that the Father and children did not earn money somehow A catholic place like Montréal in 1945 was ripe for babysitting The Mother worked but was too often pregnant That she was run ragged at home I don't accept No kids did dishes cleaned or cooked She wouldn't ask her Mother or brothers for helpThe other reason for moderately grading an admirable complex literary coup is that we never like the eldest daughter Florentine Gabrielle gives voice to everyone's thoughts even the awful Jean Lévesue whom Florentine asininely wanted to impress because he wasn't a lover's type When a story solidifies after a few chapters of snapshots she and her Mother are the protagonists We loathe her sons Eugène and Phillip and Emmanuel would be an adorable beau if he wasn't as stupid about love as Florentine in his own way He becomes her husband even though his friend Jean attracted her by being the first to kiss her We want Florentine to wizen up whom we admire as her family's sole breadwinner WWII sees the poorest still reeling from the 1930s Going to war in aid of England in France well before Americans provided jobs and family allowance cheuesThe most poignant example of a negative being a boon is Daniel in a hospital His Mother saw him with colouring books blocks and a tin flute he wanted; thinly matched English title of “Bonheur D'Occasion” He received in one day toys than he ever had Imagine a hospital being superior to a home life In their rental homes one or two kids had rooms everyone else slept on cots stowed by day I forgive Florentine vanity about how she appears and dresses after doing without I was too young to remember this film shown in my French school It abounds in great discussion fodder grasped best by adults I only recalled that it was grim and dreaded reading it all these years I am happy to discover that it is a highly readable story that carries you along outside of unlikeable characters It concludes with hope growth and improvement However the original title's meaning is apt for a book that isn't about music It means “occasional happiness”

  9. Donna Donna says:

    I very much enjoyed this peek into life in a Montreal neighbourhood in the 1940s Well drawn characters particularly Florentine her mother Rose Anna and the elusive Jean A simple story but complex layers of emotion and enough depth to make it an engrossing read I'm very surprised that I've neverheard of this book before; it really should be on all of our high school English reading lists I wavered about the rating almost gave it a perfect 5 then settled for a comfortable 4 Well worth the effortUOTE “Jean was the hard whipping wind he was winter the sworn enemy of the sudden softness you feel at the approach of spring He and she they’d recognized each other the night of the storm But the storm and cold would come to an end And although he had come into her life like a destroying gust of wind perhaps when the first storms were past it would turn out that he had come to help her see clearly all the ugliness and poverty around her” p 113

  10. Dirck de Lint Dirck de Lint says:

    I should rather pull a toe off than read this book again It's no than a catalogue of misery without redemption and while it may be realistic it's nothing I need to be told about in careful detail I had feared that this was an artifact of translation but apparently it can move people the same way in the original language; I finish with the perfect summation from this reviewLivre obligatoire à l'école C'est supposément un classiue mais j'ai trouvé ça atrocement plate

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Bonheur d'occasion ❮EPUB❯ ✻ Bonheur d'occasion ✶ Author Gabrielle Roy – Sur fond de guerre Rose Anna et Florentine la mère et la fille tentent de survivre dans un uartier pauvre de Montréal On ne compte plus les rééditions de Bonheur d'occasion le grand roman réalist Sur fond de guerre Rose Anna et Florentine la mère et la fille tentent de survivre dans un uartier pauvre de Montréal On ne compte plus les rééditions de Bonheur d'occasion le grand roman réaliste de Gabrielle Roy fresue sociale traduite en une uinzaine de langues ui a fait entrer la métropole uébécoise dans la littérature mondiale.