Kamouraska (novel)

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Kamouraska is a novel written by Anne Hébert and published in 1970. Written in French, the book has been translated into many languages.

Set in 19th century Quebec, it tells the story of a woman, Elisabeth D’Aulnières, who conspires with her lover, an American doctor, to kill her husband, the seigneur of Kamouraska. The narrative begins with Elisabeth beside the deathbed of her second husband, Jérôme Rolland, a notary. The story is told in a series of flashbacks. The narrative begins in the third person, but later switches to the viewpoint of Elisabeth telling her story in the first person.

The book is used in many schools as a novel study.

The story is based on events surrounding the 1838 murder of Achille Taché, seigneur of Kamouraska, by George Holmes, an American doctor in love with Taché's wife, Josephte-Joséphine-Eléonore d'Estimauville.

In 1973 the novel was made into a film directed by Claude Jutra and starring Geneviève Bujold and Richard Jordan. Jutra and Hébert collaborated on the screenplay.

In the end of this novel, Elisabeth does have some regret about her past life and her crime. She cries and looks for some peace in her mind, but nothing can erase her past. The questions here are: does a victim have the right to override the law and disrespect other people's lives? Does the crime make the rest of her life happy? Even when she runs away with George, are they going to be happy together? Does George have the right to accuse Elisabeth for his crime? Why does he want to accuse other people after he committed the crime? Does love make them lose their minds? Do other people in the town see Elisabeth and George as a danger? In general, what do Elisabeth and George learn in the end? And what do we learn from their lesson?


Brian Busby, Character Parts: Who's Really Who in CanLit (2003) - ISBN 0-676-97579-8