The Past at Our Feet


131 pages
ISBN 1-55071-192-X
DDC C843'.54





Translated by Jo-Anne Elder

Marguerite Andersen is a professor of French studies at the University
of Guelph.


The Past at Our Feet challenges our imagination and our definition of
what a novel might be. Told by three women, it recounts the life of a
family during the last half of the 20th century—all within the span of
12 days, the time the family needs to come to terms with the death of
one of its members.

Each woman tells her own version of the family’s history. Their
accounts, related in short texts (pages half-filled with prose that
resembles poetry), deal with such issues as murder, divorce, racism,
feminism, language, motherhood, fatherhood, love, friendship, drugs,
alcohol, AIDS, depression, perfection, and religion. Each text is
numbered, thus placing it forever in the stream of the work. And each
text has a title, a sort of signpost, indicating to the reader where the
story will stop. For example, Famine: grandmother’s African foster
children; Deaths and Resurrections: family members’ suicide attempts;
Confusion: remarriages; and so on.

Jo-Anne Elder has delivered a fine translation of this insightful book,
and Guernica Editions has brought another intriguing Québécois writer
to the attention of anglophones.



Diamond, Lynn., “The Past at Our Feet,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024,