Book Review – The Québécois Book

Book Review – The Québécois Book

The “Québécois” Book
By Brigitte Ostiguy
Illustrated by Serge Gaboury
Les éditions du Chien Rouge

Review by John Spychka

I had the pleasure of meeting Brigitte Ostiguy and Serge Gaboury at the AngloStore for the launching of The “Québécois” Book. There was standing room only with good reason. The passion and love the author and illustrator showed for their respective arts were palpable. Ostiguy’s love for words, whether they be French or English, shines through in her book and her personality. Combine this with Gaboury’s award-winning and dare I say God-given talent as an illustrator, and you have a recipe for success.

The “Québécois” Book is “…written for you people who don’t know that you already know French,” as is says on the cover. The book succeeds on this mark and opens our eyes to the profound effect the French language has had on the English language. Everyone knows that the Norman Conquest of 1066 was a turning point not only in the history of Europe but also in the history of the English language. The “Québécois” Book illustrates this point in an educative and comical way.

The number of English words with French or Latin roots is estimated between 15,000 and 30,000 according to Ositguy, even though English is a Germanic language. That’s a lot of words many of which are common, everyday words. Words like simplycreaminventphotographnational,difficult, and family. It makes you stop to realize that maybe I do know more French than I think. And, yes, I can learn this language.

Ostiguy cleverly puts all these words in the context of what it means to be Québécois. In doing so, she essentially identifies the Québécois psyche and brings out the best the Quebec culture has to offer, all in a fun and easy to understand manner. She touches on the main themes of life in Quebec such as the fours seasons, Quebec City, Montreal, romance, Quebec food, souvenir hunting, and even the secret of maple syrup.

The “Québécois” Book does not intend to teach you French although it does offer two French lessons with some of the essentials. However, I would say the book is a must for people visiting Quebec who want to get more from their trip than just pictures in front of interesting landmarks. What you’ll get is a rich cultural, social, and linguistic snapshot of why the Québécois are so proud to be Québécois.

Categories: News, Quebec Literature

About Author

John Spychka

John Spychka has dabbled in writing since the early ’90s. His closest claim to fame came around 2006 when his work, “The Slava Ladies League Christmas Pyrogy Fiasco,” was shortlisted for the annual Writers’ Union of Canada’s Short Prose Competition. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in English Literature at the University of Calgary and also has a Master’s in English Literature from Université Laval. He has travelled extensively, having lived in Japan and France. John is a manager in a multi-national software company and dreams to one day be able to live off his writing. He lives in Quebec City with his wife and two children.