#92. The Tin Flute

The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy
Translated by Alan Brown

Pages: 389
Finished: Oct. 12, 2007
Reason for Reading: this book was chosen for me on the GRTB game on LibraryThing. It also qualifies for both the Book Awards Challenge and the Canadian Book Challenge
First Published: 1945
Awards: Governor General's Award, Prix Femina of France
Genre: literature, fiction
Rating: 4/5

First Sentence:

Toward noon, Florentine had taken to watching out for the young man who, yesterday, while seeming to joke around, had let her know he found her pretty.

Comments: Nineteen year old Florentine Lacasse works in a diner at the back of a department store. She is the eldest of 11 children with one more on the way. Her father has never held a steady job and she is the primary money earner of the family. Florentine is chasing after a young man who is rising up in the world, yet he holds her in disdain for the poverty she exudes.

This is a novel of characters and far from a plot-driven story. We intimately get to know the parents of Florentine, a couple of her siblings and the two men in her life. These people become a part of your life as you learn their innermost thoughts.

Set in 1939, during the first year of Canada's involvement in World War II, The Tin Flute is a stark portrayal of poverty. This is a dark, tragic story in a world where men sign up for the army to escape from their poverty.

The first 100 pages were very slow and hard for me to read. I almost gave up on this book but I'm very glad I didn't. This is one of those books that will haunt me for a very long time.


  1. It was a while ago since I read this but I know I had similar reactions (a little too slow at first, but glad I stuck with it). The "war to escape poverty" theme certainly still resonates today, doesn't it?

  2. I agree ... it was a slow start but so worth it.

  3. John, Bookgal - so glad it wasn't just me with the slow beginning.


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