Douglas Glover’s ELLE is a tale of a young woman who was abandoned on an island in the mouth of the St. Lawrence river in 1542. Thoroughly researched, this story is based on the true tale of Marguerite de la Rocque. Elle (her name is never given in the novel) is deposited by her uncle with her lover and nursemaid. The reason for this rather cruel treatment is that he has discovered her with her lover and disapproves, to the extent that he sentences her to an almost certain death. But Elle doesn’t die. She survives the deaths of her lover and nursemaid. She survives the oncoming winter which bring ice, snow and bears. She survives a clash of cultures, and…but I won’t say more so as not to spoil this wonderful novel for you.
If you like tall tales, mesmerizing writing, and a spunky heroine whose voice possesses a sweet wryness, then this book is for you. It won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, and it is easy to see why. Five stars.