"Haunted by a family that was impossible to grasp or let go" is a passage used to describe Isa, one of the central characters of Deni Béchard's debut novel, Vandal Love
, but it could just as easily apply to many of the other strange and tortured characters who populate the pages of Béchard's eerie and eloquent novel.
The children of Hervé Hervé are born, "as if by biblical curse," alternately either "brutes or runts." Their peculiar fate seems natural, born as they are to a family, a father, and a land that is hardened and even warped by generations of hardship. Resistant to post-World War II change, deeply cynical of the United States, which has lured away so many other villagers, Hervé seems content to dig his heels into their small corner of Québec and slowly drink himself to death like the many others "whose wisdom came from...
Beyond the Book
Although some elements of Vandal Love
seem mystical or even supernatural in their origins, one significant theme of the novel is very much rooted in history. Early in the story, Hervé - Jude and François's father - expresses disgust with the mass migration of Québécois away from the country of their birth, a journey of which his own children will soon take part.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (and in particular between 1840 and the Great Depression in the 1930s), there was a major migration of French Canadians to...