Cross, Jasper, British Journal of Canadian Studies
Paulette Dubé, Talon (Edmonton: NeWest Press, 2002), 218pp. Paper. $18.95. ISBN 1-8963-0047-2.
Talon presents the unravelling of family mysteries in the interweaving of its characters' memories, dreams and waking experience. The consciousness of the book is the consciousness of the family, the descendents of the healer Rubis Morin who live or relive episodes in their personal histories and who dream events from the lives of their forbears or the lives of their children. As Rubis braids her hair (p. 6) so the novel plaits together the separate strands of the minds of its characters, winding from the 1870s to the 1960s, via 1911 and the '20s and '30s. Progress through the book is not ruled by the succession of chronology but by the leaps of image, intuition and unwilled recollection - Phélice, great-great-granddaughter of Rubis, plucks at a loose thread on her sweater and sends a button to the feet of Clemence who shows it to Phélice's aunt Aurore, who remembers Clemence coming to live with her seeking refuge from her abusive father Baptiste Trefflé.
The Trefflés are the obverse of Rubis' children. Though the gift of healing and of clairvoyance appears in that family too, it is associated primarily with the men, in particular the bestial Baptiste, who rapes his daughter, brutalises his sons, and uses his gift to dominate family and neighbours. …