Book review: The Gravediggers

Book review: The Gravediggers

LiQ_Mag_Dec_2014This book review first appeared in the December 2014 issue of Life in Québec Magazine.

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The Gravediggers
By André Lamontagne (translated by Margaret Wilson Fuller)
ISBN: 9781897430934
Price: $24.95
Published by Ekstasis Editions

Quick! What did Limoilou used to be called? Hedleyville. And Côte du Palais? Rue des Pauvres. And did you know that Mayor Lucien Borne dreamt of making Québec City the home of the United Nations, even drawing up plans for a palace on the Plains of Abraham?

The Gravediggers by André Lamontagne is a treasure trove of information on the city we live in.

The story begins in the rain, and much of it is concerned with the dead and the graveyards of Québec.

A Radio-Canada journalist living in Vancouver returns home to spend Christmas with his family and research a Chinese neighbour’s family history in Québec City, while in alternating chapters a “vaguely anti-social” young man researches the fires that have destroyed the city over the years.

It is a fascinating read for the pictures it offers of the familiar landmarks we pass by every day (St. Matthew’s Church, Rue Saint-Vallier) as well as the less familiar (the Chinese Mission chapel on Rue du Pont, the tanneries on Arago, Café de la Résistance, run by Chilean exiles).

LiQ_Mag_Abonnez-vousIt is a tale of history, reminiscing and family secrets, although it often reads more like a lively history book than an entirely successful novel.

Review by Peter McCambridge

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About Author

Peter McCambridge

Peter McCambridge is originally from Ireland and has lived in Québec City for 11 years now. He translates novels and tourism articles. Peter is currently translating his sixth novel.

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