I have always thought that the human heart is a little like the ocean, subject to tides, that joy rises in it in a steady flow, singing of waves, good fortune, and bliss; but afterward, when the high sea withdraws, it leaves an utter desolation in our sight. So it was with me that day.
Written in French by Gabrielle Roy and translated by Joyce Marshall, The Road Past Altamont captures a sweet young girl’s thoughts and feelings perfectly. I also enjoyed Roy’s descriptions of the vastness of the Manitoba prairie.
The book is really four interconnected stories more than a novel. The first story, “My Almighty Grandmother,” tells of Christine’s love and awe of her matriarch. The second story, “The Old Man and the Child,” is about Christine’s relationship with an elderly neighbor and their visit to Lake Winnipeg. This one was my favorite as I found so much sweetness in the pair’s friendship. In “The Move,” Christine discovers that not everyone lives as she does, and in “The Road Past Altamont,” an adult Christine deals with her mother’s increasing age and unrealized dreams.
I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy Willa Cather or L.M. Montgomery. I would definitely read another book by Gabrielle Roy.
1966, 146 pp.