Book - 2017 | First English edition.
Average Rating:
Rate this:

Anaïs 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-Émile 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 Québec 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, Québec'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 Méconnus

Anaïs 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 Montréal. She received the 2015 Governor General's Literary Award for Twenty-One Cardinals , her translation of Jocelyne Saucier's Les héritiers de la mine .

Publisher: Toronto : Coach House Books, 2017.
Edition: First English edition.
ISBN: 9781552453476
Branch Call Number: FIC Barbe
Characteristics: 261 pages ; 21 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

SPL_Melanie Jul 24, 2018

A novel examining the life of a woman who steps away from the young family she's fallen into, after her husband keeps disappearing and leaving her to care for children in an unheated shack with no food or money to manage with.

Inspired by the author's grandmother, this is a story of a woman who wants more from life, and eventually just has to leave to get it. Unfortunately her actions do affect those around her, but then why are stories about women who give up their own life & desires in the service of others considered more palatable? A conundrum!

Beautifully written and full of historical moment, this was a fascinating read.

Feb 27, 2018

A book that you will either love or hate. Written in a somewhat cathartic way, it is an attempt to make sense of a selfish, childish woman who could not, or would not, meet her life obligations. If I am being kinder it is a book about a woman who freed herself and was a women's libber at a time when it wasn't popular. Either way she is not likable.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings

No similar edition of this title was found at VPL.

Try searching for Suzanne to see if VPL owns related versions of the work.

Suggest for Purchase

To Top