Children of My Heart Paperback – Sep 18 2000
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Children of My Heart, which won Gabrielle Roy her third Governor General's Award, was her last major novel. This curious book provides a rare glimpse into the ethnically jumbled slums and villages of Depression-era Manitoba, but is occasionally marred by a glut of sentimentality. A thinly disguised memoir of Roy's days as a primary school teacher, the novel is a series of more-or-less disconnected vignettes of her students. All of Roy's subjects face terrors far beyond their comprehension: language barriers, dire economic pressure, familial abuse. Nonetheless, they all manage to maintain their childhood innocence and to distinguish themselves in one way or another. One hitherto undistinguished Ukrainian child develops an extraordinary singing voice and is encouraged to perform at senior citizens' homes and psychiatric institutions, while another Russian child, whose siblings have never been able to succeed at school because of their intensive labour at their family tannery, reveals a great gift for elegant penmanship. This is the kind of stuff that generally makes for drearily maudlin feel-good fiction, but fortunately Roy's talent is such that her narratives are far more than treacle. Those who welcome naiveté in their reading will be enchanted by Children of My Heart, but the tough, bitter realism of Roy's classic The Tin Flute is not to be found here. --Jack Illingworth
“Gabrielle Roy has never written anything as passionate, as troubling…how far she has come, to the heart’s most hidden recesses.”
–Gilles Marcotte, Le Devoir