Excerpt from Vandal Love by Deni Y. Béchard, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Vandal Love

A Novel

by Deni Y. Béchard

Vandal Love
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    May 2012, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

part one
Québec
1946 - 1961

Even when Jude was a boy, his arms and legs bulged, his neck corded, his muscled gut humped beneath his chest. On the steep fields above the road, above the river so wide they called it la mer, he worked in clothes the color of dirt, harder and fasterthan his uncles, though when he paused from digging, he stood awkwardly, uneasy with inaction. By the age of fifteen, he rarely stopped. He sat and ate in the same motion. He undressed and stretched on his bed and slept. Hardship had given his face the uneven angles of an old apple pressed in among others in a cellar crate. He'd never closed his eyes to wonder at what couldn't be seen.

That autumn ended a dry summer. Foliage was dull, like rusted machinery on the hills. Potato harvest had him carving furrows in chill earth. He could never have imagined that a decade later villagers would still discuss the days that led to his disappearance. Or that some nights, watching TV, they would dream his fierce height and red hair, as if they might see him on a Hollywood street.

Of the nineteen Hervé children, he should have been the most content to stay. His grandfather, Hervé Hervé, had raised him, and together they'd fished paternal waters with the regularity of Mass. The Hervés had owned those first rough mountain farms since before the Seven Years War, and when Capt. George Scott burned the French homes, they didn't flee to France. Nor did they relocate for the convenience of a telegraph line and a doctor when Jersey merchants built company villages. But for all their strength the family had developed an unusual trait. Children were born alternately brutes or runts, as if the womb had been exhausted. It was clock-work, enormous child then changeling. Villagers saw and feared this as if through some faint ancient recollection of stories that predated Christianity. They feared even the little ones, frail, scurrying beneath those hulking siblings.

Though half his children were runts as if by biblical curse, Hervé Hervé remained proud. Strong beyond his years, he brought up even the last of his sons to fish and work the fields at a time when cod stocks were failing and farmland returning to forest. He'd grown up during the worst years of the emigration south and had seen too much change to trust it - the poverty, the wealth of war, and again the poverty - until he'd become as hard as the country that had been fled by hundreds of thousands so that it was he his children now fled. In fights, men broke knuckles on his face, his wide, almost Indian features expressionless, his weather-browned skin ignoring whatever bruise. He took his sons hunting hours through the drifts. He never used a compass, and once, when geologists and surveyors sent inland by the province disappeared, he retrieved them. In 1904, walking a dark road, he heard a shot from the woods and a bullet grazed his eye. No one believed it was an accident. If anything, his remaining eye became more intent, imprinted in memories and imaginations. Some claimed he measured the distance to the sea by tasting snow.

In his first marriage he fathered three boys and three girls. Of those sons, two were keepers - he spoke of his children, if at all, in the language of a fisherman. He bred his wife hard, and when she foundered in childbed ,he replaced her with Georgianne, a sturdier woman of no small religious bent who gave him eleven more. Jude was the illegitimate son of a brutish Scots-American tourist and Agnès, Georgianne's fourteen-year-old daughter, who, intent on not giving birth, pummeled her belly, threw herself down hills and stairs, plunged into icy water and hurtled against low branches so that to the villagers she looked like a sideshow tough training for a bare knuckle fight. The pregnancy held and Jude was born with a flat nose and the glassy gaze of a punch-drunk fighter. But he wasn't born alone. He came into the world with a tiny twin sister, in his arms, it was told, as though he expected further violence.

Excerpted from Vandal Love by Deni Y Béchard. Copyright © 2012 by Deni Y Béchard. Excerpted by permission of Milkweed Editions. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Le Grand Hémorragie

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: All We Have Left
    All We Have Left
    by Wendy Mills
    September 11, 2001 is a date that few Americans will ever forget. It was on this day that our ...
  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.