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   Across the Bridge

Across the Bridge

Author: Gallant, Mavis Set In . . .
 Europe, France, Paris, North America, Canada, Quebec, Montreal
Genre: Short Stories
Time Frame: Early 20th Century
Published: 1993
A New York Times Best Book of the Year: Short stories centered around a French Canadian family that relocates to Paris in the years before WWII.

One of the greatest strengths of Mavis Gallant’s writing is her ability to distill a character’s emotions into a simple moment—a lingering glance or an unuttered word. Her flair for detail is everywhere in evidence in Across the Bridge, studies of Montreal and Paris over the last century.

The primary focus of this story collection is the Carettes, a family of French Canadians who relocate to Paris before World War II. The two daughters, Marie and Berthe, could not be more different: Marie is traditional and quiet while Berthe is strong willed and open minded. But as they grow together, the two learn how much they truly have in common.

Accompanying these stories of the Carettes are tales of growth and isolation at home and abroad, including one of a rebellious French-speaking Canadian girl growing up in the Anglophone area of the city. Another entry is focused on an anthropologist who, on a trip to a small country, finds a group of people who speak a language no one has ever heard before. Unfortunately, when he announces his discovery, no one believes him.

Gallant writes “elegant, witty tales of place and person” and cannily observes small domestic moments as her characters create and destroy the illusions in their lives (Library Journal).
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