Barely a year ago, many of us were seduced by Douze arpents, the first novel by Marie-Hélène Sarrasin, which slipped into the preliminary list of the Booksellers Prize. Although anchored in the past, the territory and rurality, the story was imbued with a refreshing magical realism.

The author from Lanaudière, who teaches literature at college, returns to us with a second literary proposal, anchored in the same waters, without being a continuation. We happily find certain characters, notably the immortal Gossips of Saint-Didace, but the story told is quite different.

Rather than oscillating between two eras, the story of Ce qui nous devore is embodied in two territories: first Montreal, where Madeleine, a florist, lives with her husband Siméon, a retired police officer suffering from Alzheimer’s, and then Mandeville, in Lanaudière, from where she was uprooted, against her will. Their story intertwines with that of their granddaughter, Marine, who is expecting a child while her partner, inspired by the poetry of Serge Bouchard, travels the roads of America to earn a living. There is also Suzanne, Siméon’s sister, possessed for years by an anger that transforms the streets into rivers.

Imbued with a more sober and less destabilizing fantasy than Douze arpents, Ce qui nous devore paints the portrait of suffocated women, who thirst for freedom, and without embarrassment addresses the distress of caregivers. Although the plot is linear, without really unexpected twists and turns, the writing is poetic and effective. This is a short novel that you can devour in one sitting.