Gabrielle and the Long Sleep into Mourning

Originally published in 2001 as Gabrielle au bois dormant, Denyse Delcourt's brilliant fiction—a finalist for the Prix Anne-Hebert in 2001 and the Prix Marguerite-Duras in 2002—is set in a large isolated house on a lakeside in modern Quebec. Eight childhood friends, now in their fifties, have gathered for a weekend to reminisce about their early years in a closed and intimated group of young men and women who grew up together around a lagoon of the Paius River in a peaceful and semi-rural town outside of Montreal in the 1950s.

Surprisingly, the disbanded friends have all accepted the invitation eagerly, although their gathering revives an anxiety, long repressed, linked to the enigmatic death of an otherworldly, asthmatic member of their group named Gabrielle. Since that troubling event, all of the friends have become further burdened by the unacknowledged personal histories of their own adult lives. They still carry within themselves the same ruinous desires, taboos, and dislikes that had woven them tightly to each other. Such, then, is the volatile narrative present in which the full story of Gabrielle's death will come to light.

Author Denyse Delcourt has taught at the University of Washington since 1990. As an academic, she is a medievalist, author of L'Ethique du changement dans le roman frangais du Moyen Age. She is currently working on her second novel. Her other teaching interests include Old French language and literature, contemporary Quebecois literature, and French fairytales.