Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Book Reviews -- Mumsahib: A Novel in Stories by Anne Montagnes

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Book Reviews -- Mumsahib: A Novel in Stories by Anne Montagnes

Article excerpt

Montagnes, Anne, Mumsahib: A Novel in Stores. Fredericton, New Brunswick: Goose Lane Editions, 1992, 183 pp., $14.95 softcover.

A cross-cultural novel is a difficult genre at best. The novelist's task is especially challenging if the plot is required to shuffle back and forth between cultures, between vastly different geographical locales, in sudden, fitful spurts rather than the somewhat more langurous pace of waves, powerful yet controlled.

Lucy, the central figure in Anne Montagne's novel, is described as a postmenopausal lady poet. Rebuffed by the Toronto publishers of a poetry anthology for Junior High, Lucy parlays an inherited piano for a passage to India, the land where her grandmother married an Eurasian doctor and gave birth to Lucy's mother, Agnes.

Lucy's broken marriage with Harry, her half clandestine affair with Joe, her ambivalence towards her mother, and her incipient relationships with her children never really have a chance to surface above the cultural plurality that appears to be one of the novel's dominant preoccupations.

Montagne brings a wonderful eye for detail to the novel. But her vision seems flawed and partial. It is like seeing India through the windows of a speeding train. …

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