The third novel in the highly acclaimed quartet, The Charles the Bold Series, about a young man growing up in Montreal from the 1960s to 2000.
The last lines of volume two, The Years of Fire, have young Charles Thibodeau defiantly shouting “Montreal! You’re going to be hearing from me! I’m going to make your ears ring!” — just like Balzac’s hero Rastignac in Paris.
Now, after leaving high school at sixteen, Charles takes the leap and sets out to write The Great Montreal Novel. His stepfather, Fernand, is furious — “If I ever run into that goddamned Balzac I’m going to wring his neck for him . . .” — but Charles rents an apartment and a typewriter and sets to work.
What follows is Yves Beauchemin’s brilliant account of the joys and perils of a young novelist’s life. As the pages pile up, the money runs out. In due course, Charles has encounters with a sneering literary publisher and an oily vanity publisher, with predictable results.
Desperate, Charles takes on any job that comes his way — in his stepfather’s hardware store, as a dog-catcher (his skill at barking provokes unlicensed dogs to bark back), and as a front man for a touring evangelist. Finally, he succeeds in getting a writing job. It’s at a third-rate magazine, but his foot is on the ladder.
As always, Charles is supported by his friends during these adventures, and leads his life against the Quebec politics of the 1980s, involving Trudeau and others. And, as always, the sheer skill of Yves Beauchemin’s traditional storytelling sweeps us along, reminding us of the great novelists of the past.
Yves Beauchemin is Quebec’s most popular novelist, and the author of the classic The Alley Cat. The first two books in this quartet, which continues to attract new readers, are Charles the Bold (2006) and The Years of Fire (2007).
From the Hardcover edition.
Praise for Yves Beauchemin's Charles the Bold series:
“One of the ‘great books’. . . . No wonder Beauchemin is considered Quebec’s Balzac.” — Montreal Gazette
“Here’s a warm welcome to volume two of the life and times of Charles the Bold, Yves Beauchemin’s Dickensian serial salute to his beloved Montreal.” — Toronto Star
“A consummate storyteller, Beauchemin has been compared to Dickens, Rabelais and Balzac.” — Globe and Mail
“With his vivid cast of characters, a hero you can love even when he’s screwing up, and a dynamic sense of history, Beauchemin may just be Canada’s Dickens.” — Winnipeg Free Press