The Tin Flute

The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy
Translated by Alan Brown

First Published: 1945
Award: Governor General's Award

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.

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