A Crossing of Hearts continues Michel Tremblay’s Desrosiers Diaspora series of novels, a family saga set in Montreal during World War I.
August 1915. Montreal is stifled by a heat wave while war rages in Europe. The three Desrosiers sisters – Tititte, Teena, and Maria – had been planning a whole week of vacation in the mountains, to do nothing but gossip, laugh, drink, and overeat while basking in the sun. Maria had decided to leave her children, Nana and Théo, in Montreal, in the care of a neighbour who gives her a hand when she needs it. Now Maria’s children come roaring into the kitchen, pink with pleasure, begging to come too. “I keep telling you, Momma, we’ll be as quiet as little mice,” Nana assures her. “We’ll hardly take up any room. You won’t even know we’re there.”
Reluctantly, Maria takes her children along on the week-long trip to the Laurentians. As the reader views the journey through young Nana’s eyes, we come to understand the impoverished circumstances they leave behind in Montreal, only to find poverty ever more present in the country. Yet here it is surrounded by mountains, reflected in a lovely lake, and the blue sky gives them a moment of respite. It feels good to get out of town, and Tremblay’s writing remains so vivid that the reader imagines dipping into cool lake water along with the family. Encounters with rural relatives crystallize young Nana’s true feelings for her mother, as confidences and family secrets fuse day into night.
This third novel in Tremblay’s Desrosiers Diaspora series bursts with life as Nana, the young city girl, explores the natural world – and the enchanted forest of her inner, maturing self. The novel also further develops the character of Maria so that we understand her motivations more fully, and at the same time recognize nods to the history of Quebec and the dynamics of the family under the strictures of the Catholic church.
About the authors
One of the most produced and the most prominent playwrights in the history of Canadian theatre, Michel Tremblay has received countless prestigious honours and accolades. His dramatic, literary and autobiographical works have long enjoyed remarkable international popularity, including translations of his plays that have achieved huge success in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East.
Awards and Recognition*
Prix du Grand (2009) La Traversée de la ville (Leméac Editeur Inc.)
Blue Metropolis International Literary Grand Prix (2006)
Globe and Mail Top 100 Books (2003) Birth of a Bookworm
Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play (2000) For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again
Chalmers Awards (1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1986, 1989, 2000)
Governor General’s Performing Arts Award (1999)
Molson Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts (1994)
Louis-Hémon Prize (1994)
Montreal Book Fair Grand Public Prize (1994)
Banff Centre National Award (1992)
Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters of France (1991)
Chevalier of the Order of Quebec (1990)
San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Festival Long-Standing Public Service Award (1989)
CBC Anik Prize (1988)
Athanase-David Lifetime Achievement Prize (1988)
Quebec-Paris Prize (1985)
Chevalier of Arts and Letters of France (1984)
John Van Burek
John Van Burek has been a practising theatre artist for over 20 years, in both French and English, throughout Canada. He has also worked in the fields of opera, film and television. He is also one of Canada’s leading translators for theatre, most notably of Michel Tremblay’s plays, including Les Belles-Soeurs (Talonbooks). Mr. Van Burek has received several awards and citations for his work, including the Toronto Drama Bench Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Canadian Theatre.
Born in Quebec, William Grant (?Bill”) Glassco was a Canadian theatre director, producer and founder of Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre. He then became the artistic director of the CentreStage Theatre Company which merged, in 1988, with the Toronto Free Theatre to become CanStage. In 1982, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
“In this novel, Tremblay not only gives his fans the background they crave on their beloved Plateau characters, he also sets the groundwork for understanding that the world and the people in it are Janus-like. Good and bad, French and English, country and city, moral and immoral, brave and scared, everything is all rolled up into this thing called life.” – The Globe and Mail
“In this brilliantly constructed, coming-of-age novel Nana learns and guesses a lot of things about each of the characters she encounters. By the end of her journey, she is not the same: she is not an adult, she is not a teenager, but she has learned things about life that she had never suspected existed.” – Voir
"Tremblay once again beautifully and skillfully depicts the nuances and overlaps between urban and rural experiences, the weight of intergenerational struggles, and the sometimes tricky negotiations between the yearnings of the individual and those of family"