School for girls by Ariane Lessard

School for girls by Ariane Lessard

Quebec fiction

Original title -Ècole pour Filles

Translator – Frances Pope

Source – Review copy

I have loved most if not all the books that have come from Quebec their selection have gone from the weird to the every day and everything in between and this is no exception it is an odd collection of voice of those at a remote girl’s school. Born not far from a monastery of cloistered sisters which is strange as at times the way the book unfolds it reminds me of the madness and world away from the world in Black Narcissus. Anne Lessard has written for magazines and helped to publish a collection around the signs of the zodiac and has written for a number of magazines. This is her first book to be translated into English.

I saw a brachyssera. Brachycera. I always add one letter too many, in all the possibilities of spelling. The writing on the blackboard is a trace, too. A trace left behind, marking the way, girls who write badly won’t go anywhere in life. I struggle to form the Os. Curves don’t lead anywhere. I prefer things that go straight ahead. Parallel lines, or angles. Jeanne had a bandage around her hand. Jeanne is too soft, and she’ll pay for it in life. I’d have liked to see her wound. I hurt her. I hurt her to win, to show her that you don’t win without your tail. You don’t win without that roll of cloth in your underwear. You don’t win without the help of the devil in your pants.

Corrine is one of the main voices in the book .

This collection of detached voices focuses on the girls and teachers of a remote school in a forest and what happens over a year there. The voices around the school tell the tales we aren’t ever told the full details a teacher with an injured leg gangrene death odd practices in lessons this is an Erie world. Girls having the first period there is that sense of these people being cut of from the real world and how that brings on its own view of the world and can push people to the extremes of their own nature and cause them to distrust those around them and that is what we see here with so and so disliking so and so so Corrine is friends with Collete and is one of the main characters but mid way another voice says she doesn’t know them is that age or are they different voices at different times in the same place. The Beauty of the novel is it gives you the read that question of what is happening and when.

I’lI put Annette under the stones before long.I was at the big table in the library, writing, and I could see Annette spying on me from behind the English novels. The minute I went to catch her out, that nosey girl, she pretended to be looking for a book. Everyone knows Annette doesn’t read English novels. Too busy daydreaming. She had just better leave me alone, since I can’t escape outside anymore. If she doesn’t start respecting the solitude I need for my writing–and soon-I shan’t be held responsible for my actions. She wouldn’t be the first to find out what I can do.

Ariandre an Erie voice here and a scary voice it seems at times.

I compare this to the black narcissus it has that feel of people on the edge in the remote world they are in habitant something is quite right the norm for them has gone dame Anne as she injured her leg and died but where did she end up this is one of many threads in the book as we go around the people and the seasons go by. It is that world apart caught so well a group outside the world. It captures the world of being a teen these girls are searching for who they are come of resentful, strong, scared and just unsure who they are at times. Then there is the odd band of Dames teaching them that all seem to have stepped out of a classic kid’s school book the odd maths teacher the loving teacher the strict one it uses the tropes of the school novel and left the bare bones and you to fill in the gaps. It is like the prime of JEAN Brodie was set in a remote forest and had the madness of black narcissus drizzled over it that is how I felt about his Erie chorus of voices.Have you a favourite book set in a school ?

Winstons score – -A Erie school and kids a book that is bare bones that will leave you thinking long after you put it down.

December 2022


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