Eighty-five years of art and history through the eyes of a woman who fled her family – as re-imagined by her granddaughter.
AnaÃ¯s Barbeau-Lavalette never knew her mother’s mother. Curious to understand why her grandmother, Suzanne, a sometime painter and poet associated with Les Automatistes, a movement of dissident artists that included Paul-Ã?mile Borduas, abandoned her husband and young family, Barbeau-Lavalette hired a private detective to piece together Suzanne’s life.
Suzanne, winner of the Prix des libraires du QuÃ©bec and a bestseller in French, is a fictionalized account of Suzanne’s life over eighty-five years, from Montreal to New York to Brussels, from lover to lover, through an abortion, alcoholism, Buddhism, and an asylum. It takes readers through the Great Depression, QuÃ©bec's Quiet Revolution, women’s liberation, and the American civil rights movement, offering a portrait of a volatile, fascinating woman on the margins of history. And it’s a granddaughter’s search for a past for herself, for understanding and forgiveness.
‘It’s about a nameless despair, an unbearable sadness. But it’s also a reflection on what it means to be a mother, and an artist. Most of all, it’s a magnificent novel.’
– Les MÃ©connus
AnaÃ¯s Barbeau-Lavalette is a Montreal-based author and director. She was named the 2012 Artist for Peace by the social justice organization Les Artistes Pour la Paix.
Rhonda Mullins is a writer and translator living in Montreal. She received the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award for Twenty-One Cardinals, her translation of Jocelyne Saucier’s Les hÃ©ritiers de la mine.