Gabrielle Roy

French Canadian fiction writer

Gabrielle Roy, CC FRSC (March 22, 1909 – July 13, 1983) was a French Canadian author.

Gabrielle Roy 1945.jpg
Gabrielle Roy 1945


  • Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?
    • Gabrielle Roy, in the back of the Canadian $20 bill (On September 29, 2004, the Bank of Canada issued a $20 bank note in the Canadian Journey Series which included a quotation from Gabrielle Roy book The Hidden Mountain- La Montagne secrète - 1961)
Gabrielle Roy in 1945 with boys from Saint-Henri, the working-class neighbourhood of Montreal where The Tin Flute takes place.
  • Florentine... Florentine Lacasse... half song, half squalor, half springtime, half misery,the young man murmured.
    • P. 27
  • We're saying that Germany wants to destroy us. And right now in Germany a whole lot of good quiet people like us, no worse than we are, they're getting whipped into a frenzy by the same story. They're being told the others are penning them into a country that's too small, and don't want to let them live. On one side or the other somebody's being sold a bill of goods. Maybe the Germans are wrong. We don't know. All I know is, I don't want to go killing some guy that never did me any harm, and who hasn't the choice but to do what he's told. I've got nothing against that poor guy. Why should I go and stick a bayonet into him? He wants to live, just like I do. He doesn't want to die.
    • P.45
  • She too was standing in the lamp’s raw light. Her cheeks looked hollow, her lips too red, too bold.
    • P. 84
  • But Florentine was still riding the crest of her great wave...When it lifted her high she had to hold her breath. How could she ever again be bothered by these petty everyday cares? Would she ever again feel the old anxiety on hearing these dreadful midnight confidences, in the silence heavy with breathing? The wave that bore her was like a long, slow swell. There were hollows into which she sank with all her thoughts, all her willpower, where she was no more than a wing, a feather, a fringe, borne off ever faster, ever faster...He kissed me on the cheeks. On the eyes! "What's going to happen to us, Florentine? If your father's gone and lost his job again, we'll have to live on what you can give us, poor Florentine. We can always go back on relief...
    • P. 85
  • The sun was already a bright, running brook. From the gables of the houses hung sharp-pointed icicles, like gleaming crystal. From time to time one would break off with a snap, and crash at Rose-Anne's feet in shining shards. She progressed very slowly, afraid of falling, always seeking a hand-hold somewhere. Then she would be in soft snow again, which meant harder work but less fear of a slip and fall.
    • P. 94
  • She moved slowly, and her coat, too tight, made her belly stick out more prominently. With the two dollars deep in her purse she wandered off, more uncertain than ever, for now she saw the shining pans and pots and the cloth, so soft to the touch. Her desires grew vast and many, and she left, poorer certainly than when she had come in the store.
    • P.120
  • That was when she recognized love: this torture on seeing someone, the greater torture when he was out of sight, in short, a torture without end.
    • P. 139
  • Because you’d be running after your own unhappiness.
    • P. 142
  • On the windowpanes came rattling fistfuls of shot, and the snow whirled and sifted beneath ill-fitting doors, slid in the cracks of windowsills and searched in a frenzy for any refuge against the fury of the wind.
    • P. 144
  • ...You and a lot of others like you wanted nothing more than a job and a bit of a salary just to keep the body and soul together. Instead of that you were doing, nothing and the rest of us who were making a dollar, well, we were paying for that. We paid to keep you doing nothing. In Canada, here, it got so the two-thirds of the population kept the other third idle!
    • P.148
  • Her shoulders sagging, her back hunched, her eyelids tired, Rose-Anna sewed for the feast, not daring even to sing for fear of frightening off her joy.
    • P. 177
  • He realized that Florentine personified this kind of wretched life against which his whole being was in revolt. And in the same moment he understood the feeling that drew him toward her: she was his own poverty, his solitude, his sad childhood, his lonely youth. She was all that he had hated, all that he had left behind him, but also everything that remained intimately linked to him, the most profound part of his nature and the powerful spur of his destiny.
    • P 205
  • He [Jean] still felt surges of generosity, and gave in to them if they didn’t cramp his style. That was it. He could be kind if kindness caused him no problems.
    • P. 206
  • It began to rain harder. The last snow was under attack by these heavy, wide-spaced drops. All that remained underfoot of months of frost and freezing was a light crust that crumbled as he walked. The sidewalk was soon completely washed by this slow, tenacious rain. Its smooth, shining surface reflected the midnight lights and tangles of naked branches.
    • P. 210
  • "That money," she cried, almost vehemently, "you can be sure I won’t lay a hand on it unless there’s terrible need." He looked away. He couldn’t bear to hear her talking about the rents and poverty. Would the two of them ever talk about anything else? Was that what he’d come home for? To hear more complaints? Outside people were hurrying past, almost racing toward the busy streets of town. Others were on their way to the movies. Girls were going out to meet their boyfriends. There was youth in the streets, and all of that was waiting for him.
    • P. 235
  • ..."Would you wait for me?" he asked suddenly, his voice husky and low. "it's not right, but would you wait? Would you you wait till the world is cured again? A year? Two years? Maybe longer! Could you give me all that time, Florentine?" She pulled back from him, wary of his words. What did he mean? "Till the world cured..." What kind of talk was that? She was fearful of what she didn't understand, but felt at that moment she felt their destinies in her hand...
    • P.335-336
  • I'm (Eugene) probably goin' to be promoted, and it'll be more than twenty bucks you'll get then, you just wait. You'll have enough to live on, Ma (Rose-Anna). You won't have to scrape all your life, the rest of us'll see to that.
    • P. 237
  • Florentine had grown more or less immune to the charms of spring.
    • P. 246
  • Soon she saw the dining room light shining through the parted curtains. Its humble glow provoked a goodness in her heart that was no longer calculating or defiant, nor a kind of currency with which to barter and exchange; what she felt was an infinite, poignant affinity for this life that was her family’s. No longer did it seem harassed and restricting, but rather made beautiful from start to finish like a lighthouse beam before her. Home would take her in, home would cure her. Her hand on the doorknob, she paused for one long, ineffable moment. Then she pushed open the door. And it was as if an arctic wind chilled her frail efforts to make a fresh beginning.
    • P. 257
  • Rose-Anna was tugging at the edge of her apron with a tired, futile gesture she had never made in the past – the grandmother’s gesture.
    • P.260
  • Running anywhere, blindly, hating the echo of her footsteps in the silence of the empty streets, Florentine fled from her own fear, fled from herself.
    • P.263
  • Home! That was an old word, one of the first the children had ever learned. You used it without thinking, a hundred times a day. It had meant so many different things!..Home was an elastic word and even meaningless at times....
    • P.275-276
  • She understood at once, and with the courageous goodwill that sustained her, resigned herself to the fact: there was always a drawback. There had to be. Sometimes it was the lack of light, or a factory nearby, or not enough rooms. Here, it was a railroad.
    • P.281
  • For a long time he stood at the window looking at the shining rails. They had always fascinated him. Squinting a little he saw them stretch away to infinity, carrying him off to his rediscovered youth.
    • P.371
  • Why, this man seemed barely older than himself, Emmanuel thought. He gave off a sense of almost irresistible vigor. Quite simply, he had at last become a man...
    • P.375
  • Florentine was now no more than a bright patch on the platform. He managed to see her take out her compact and wipe away the few traces of her tears. He closed his eyes and, as if he were already very far away, cherished that image of Florentine and her powder puff. Then he searched the crowd one last time for her thin, small face and her burning eyes. But she had already turned her back to leave before the train was out of sight.
    • P.379
  • Every moment of every day and night he was able to take the measure of his failure now. Even his family's poverty which for years he had refused to admit, began to grow familiar to him, but like the memory of a companion that one has left behind. Rose-Anna...She'd been a young girl at his side, then tired, then overwhelmed, and here she was sleeping beside him on a kind of pallet, on the floor. He could hear the whimpers from the children in their sleep.
    • P. 281-282
  • Peace has been as bad as war. Peace has killed as many people as war. Peace is as bad. Peace is as bad...
    • P. 313
  • To make war, you had to be filled with love, with a vehement passion, exalted, intoxicated, otherwise the whole thing was inhuman and absurd.
    • Page. 315
  • Finally anger took possession of him. It was his turn to ask the question already raised by so many others: We, down there, the ones who join up, we're giving everything we have to give, maybe our arms and our two legs. He looked up at the high grills, the curving driveways, the sumptuous facades, and completed his thought: Are these people giving all they have to give?
    • P. 319-320
  • Where could you find a light to guide the world?
    • P. 319
  • They could see the rapids on their right. The swaying of the bus made her sick and weak, and her willpower was failing with her strength. She was afraid of falling into a torpor in which everything would become immaterial to her, and she tensed in an effort to seem gay and even attentive to Emmanuel.
    • P. 330
  • Why did she have to wake up this morning? Or ever! But especially this morning. Her stare took on a glint of panic. Then she thought: Oh! This is my wedding day!
    • P. 342
  • This is my wedding day! The day I marry Emmanuel! And the word "wedding," which she had always linked the happiness, now seemed austere, distressing, full of snares and revelations. She saw her mother, heavy and moving with difficulty. A vision of herself as a victim of the same deformity was vivid in her mind.
    • P. 342
  • "Don’t preach," said Florentine violently. She was beginning to see the maze of lies and deceptions that lay before her.
    • P.344
  • Azarius, for his part, had not made her voyage to the depths of pain to understand that death and birth, in that place, have almost the same tragic meaning.
    • P. 367
  • He seemed to be witnessing with his own eyes the supreme bankruptcy of humanity. Wealth had spoken the truth that night on the mountain.
    • P. 376.
  • He saw a tree in a backyard, its branches tortured among electric wires and clotheslines, its leaves dry and shriveled before they were fully out. Low in the sky, dark clouds heralded the storm.
    • P. 383.

Where Nests the Water Hen (1951)

  • The more the heart is sated with joy, the more it becomes insatiable.
    • in Where Nests the Water Hen:Roy,Gabrielle (1951)
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