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A Memoir by Huguette O'Neil, trans. by Suzanne O’Connor

The Madonna of the St. Denis Bar-BQ

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The Madonna of the St. Denis Bar-BQ

The Madonna of the St. Denis Bar-BQ is a true account of a parent-child relationship, beginning with the details of the death of the author’s mother, Belle-Moue, and tracing her history back, chapter by chapter, to her birth some decades earlier. It reads like modern-day fiction, scored with factual information. The theme is universal. Authors from different cultural backgrounds have written about the life and death of a parent: Simone de Beauvoir and Michael Ignatieff, among others, have recounted the mother-to-daughter, mother-to-son legacy.

The setting for the book, originally entitled Belle-Moue, is regional: it is the life story of a Québécoise, in la belle province, from 1988 back to 1909. The plot includes a distinct dimension — the veritable influence of religion and government on 20th century French Canada and on women in particular — a subject about which Huguette O’Neil writes with convincing authority. An award-winning author, she is also a journalist and served as Director of Information for the Quebec Council on the Status of Women.

The Madonna of the St. Denis Bar-B-Q was originally published by Triptyque under the title Belle-Moue. The book won both the Prix Gaston-Gouin and the prix Juge-Lemay, and has been translated by Suzanne O’Connor.

Critical Comment

“In a book with a few pages, Huguette O’Neil packs a wallop, delving into the complexities of mother-daughter relationships, the sociopolitical climate of Quebec, and bares her own soul in the process.... She exposes her mother with all her warts and makes no attempt to hide her own feelings of guilt, and at times annoyance, with her mother, striking a chord that resonates with every reader.”

— Sharon McCully, The Record, 2004

“By contrasting her mother’s powerlessness with her own political activism, O’Neil reflects on the social changes that have enabled her to believe in the possibility of modifying the course of women’s destiny. In a series of emotionally charged passages that sporadically disrupt her otherwise dispassionate narrative, O’Neil forgives her mother for her submissiveness and recognizes the extent to which the latter’s unconditional love was fundamental to hwer own sense of self-worth. ”

— U of T Quarterly, Winter 2006

“O’Neil manages to explore the ravages of her mother’s life with wisdom and tenderness....”

— Joan Cadham, Montreal Review of Books, 2004

Author Huguette O'Neil

Huguette O'Neil Author

Author Biography

Hugette O’Neil is a well-known independent Quebec journalist. A specialist in feature writing, she has published articles in La Presse, Le Devoir, Chatelaine, and l ’Actualité. Her works include Fascinante Nelly (1996) and Propos sur la Vie (1987). In the late seventies, she served as Director of Information for the Quebec Council on the Status of Women and was responsible for the changes to the Quebec government’s policy on maternity leave. She lives in Lennoxville.

The Madonna of the St. Denis Bar-BQ, Huguette O'Neil , 95 pp., 5x 8, Memoir, September 2004

ISBN: 978-0-919688-93-3 (paper). . .$15.95

ISBN: 978-0-919688-95-7 (Bound) . . . $26.95

* This book is “perfect bound” with an add-on hand bound cover, no dust jacket.

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