When young Lusignan sets off from Ottawa to the First World War with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, he has already survived a tragicomic Catholic childhood and a writing career that has brought him both acclaim and disgrace. Shortly before the men depart for Europe, Lusignan has an encounter with a fellow officer, the aristocratic Essiambre d'Argenteuil, that proves to be the defining moment of his life.
Returning from Europe a hollow man, Lusignan keeps the memory alive by shadowing Amalia Driscoll, a woman whose strait-laced proprieties were challenged by this same d'Argenteuil. He encounters Concorde, the untutored young maid struggling to get by in the Flats district of Ottawa, and the Capuchin monk Father Mathrun, who longs for martyrdom in a foreign land. Providing the backdrop to Poliquin's incisive character study is a vivid evocation of a pivotal era in Canadian history.
"[Poliquin's] Ottawa, viewed in all its uptight glory from the skewed and skewering perspective of a charismatic Franco-Ontarian outsider, charlatan and gigolo manque, is a welcome and fitting satire of a time and place that, in our literature, is often read as lofty and aloof."
"Poliquin's A Secret Between Us deals with the way a war and its aftermath is experienced in a unique cultural setting, where ethnicities intermingle against a complex historical background. It is rendered in prose that blends hyperrealism with kinetic lyricism...A Secret Between Us is world class."
"A Secret Between Us is funny. It is the first-person narration of a robust French Catholic named Lusignan...How can we not love Lusignan? He falls from grace in the military without the slightest care, he pursues one woman while sleeping with another. He drinks, he lets his emotional wounds fester rather than tend them. He is so corporeal, so human, we know him from the first sentence: 'I am the flesh made word.' Indeed."
"The devil is in the details, where he rightly belongs...A Secret Between Us is a welcome contrast to the vast library of earnest self-important historical novels about great Canadians and their important deeds."