House of Sighs


112 pages
ISBN 1-55128-091-4
DDC C843'.54





Translated by Liedewy Hawke

Marguerite Andersen is a professor of French Studies at the University
of Guelph. She is the author of Courts métrages et instantanés and La


This English-language translation of Jocelyne Saucier’s first novel,
La vie comme une image, won the John Glassco Award and the Canada
Council Translation Prize (now the Governor General’s Award for
Translation). The titular “house” is inhabited by a seemingly loving
couple and their daughter whose lives are totally controlled by the
menstrual cycle. Periods are subjects of conversation at mealtime, diets
are set according to hormonal needs, and the father takes on extra
household chores while his menstruating wife rests on the living room

After the girl begins to menstruate, a mother–daughter symbiosis
develops. When their menstruation dates converge, the women occupy the
living room, protecting themselves “from the jolts of everyday
existence.” The father accepts a job in another city. The daughter
believes he will return; the mother knows he will not. Eventually, the
daughter finds herself supporting her aging mother on her modest
teacher’s salary. As depicted in this hauntingly absurd novel, the
mother– daughter bond can be a lovely thing; it can also be an
unmitigated disaster.


Saucier, Jocelyne., “House of Sighs,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024,