978-0-7710-9855-0 / 9780771098550

The Cashier (New Canadian Library)


Publisher:New Canadian Library


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About the book:

The Cashier is Gabrielle Roy's second and final novel about Montreal, and its picture of Quebec's metropolis is, if possible, even bleaker than that drawn in its famous predecessor, The Tin Flute. It tells the story of Alexandre Chenevert, a miserable, repressed teller at a downtown bank. Alexandre's family relations are dry, and his hypochondria is aggravated by his great sensitivity to the problems of the world. In short, he is a poor, pathetic man who seems unlikely to hold a reader's attention for long.

But Roy manages to do just that. The Cashier is one of her most successful books, wringing terror, pity, and emotional gravitas out of a seemingly impossible situation. Once Alexandre begins to challenge his lot in life--first through an attempt to resign his position at the bank, then through an idyllic episode in a backwoods cabin, and finally on his deathbed--he gains some nobility, and even though he is never able to better his material circumstances, his inner life finally finds some redemption. At once cynical and idealistic, The Cashier is a squalid and beautiful novel that puts Roy's ever-present sentimental tendencies to good use. Anyone who has read The Tin Flute and wants more will find much to enjoy here. --Jack Illingworth

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