Books · Read in 2022 · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Autumn Rounds (Jacques Poulin)

a quiet, tender sort of novel

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Autumn Rounds (La Tournée d’Automne)
Author: Jacques Poulin (Translator: Sheila Fischman)
Genre: Fiction/Literary
First published: 1993
Edition: E-book, courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher (Archipelago Books)

A quiet man, living in an apartment in Quebec City, hears a marching band through his window. He looks out, sees the band and suddenly decides to join the crowd forming around them. So begins Autumn Rounds, a novel about love that unfolds late in life. The band turns out to be touring musicians, singers, and acrobats from France; among their number is a strangely familiar woman to whom the man feels very attracted. This is a bitter-sweet novel. Because it is his last tour, the man is acutely aware of the details of his life on the road: the way cats in the towns are attracted to his van because it was once a milk truck, how certain reading networks will soon be needing new coordinators, how hauntingly beautiful he and the woman find the landscape of the North Shore of the St. Lawrence River.

***

This is the kind of novel to just curl up with and enjoy as the rain lashes the window. It’s quiet and kind of quaint, almost abstract in its execution.

I enjoy quiet books and this one was no exception. Set in Canada, originally written in French, it tells the story of the Driver, who visits small villages with his bookmobile. Just that premise alone is so sweet. His relationship with Marie is interesting. These are older people discovering feelings for each other and I was really glad to read about that. The author chose to build it in such a quiet way and I enjoyed it. However, I did always feel quite distanced from the characters in an odd sort of way, especially Marie, who I did not really understand.

Was it a bit too twee? Maybe a little, but it was a very nice experience to read this. I would like to seek out more works from this author.

If you like a quiet book that is simply about a older man carefully navigating falling in love again whilst spreading his love of books, this will be for you.

5 out of 7 stars

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