“With its winsome protagonist and the palpable interplay between innocence and the shadows that encroach on it, Charney has written one of the most endearing novels of the season.”
Montreal Review of Books
“Charney’s narration is elegant and understated throughout…[and] the novel offers considerable insight into the increasingly complex mind of an ambitious young writer.”
Quill and Quire
“The voice of the narrator, Ellen, is strong and true, giving this delicious novel the ingenuous power of a memoir.”
Ann Charney’s novels Dobryd and Rousseau’s Garden were published in the US, Canada, France, Germany and Italy. Her short stories have appeared in Ms. Magazine, Chatelaine, Paris Transcontinental, Saturday Night, Descant, Canadian Forum, and Queen’s Quarterly.
Cormorant Fall 2008
Hurtubise World French 2010
Distantly Related to Freud
An affecting coming-of-age tale of a precocious, wary girl in the 1950s and 1960s
Ellen is the central hope of her mother and a motley family of refugees who washed ashore in Montreal after fleeing war-torn Europe.
Ellen’s best friend Lydia enjoys more freedom (or neglect) from her mother Magda who counsels the teenagers, “Sex is power.”
Magda, a fashion executive with a wealthy, married paramour who lavishes her with gifts and travel, is a living tutorial on being a femme fatale. Ellen tests Magda’s lessons during a summer with glamorous American cousins who are part of New York’s country club set.
Success has its consequences when she attracts the affection and the fraternity “pin” of a suitor. Ellen dispassionately loses her virginity but flees commitment.
Sex is power, indeed, but in a power play, the tables can turn abruptly. The shock occurs when Lydia is abducted. For several sickening days she cannot be found and is feared dead. The truth horrifies Ellen who learns other weapons in power’s arsenal are even more potent when wielded by a jealous, embittered wife.
Ellen’s explorations and astute comments guide us from post-war anxieties into the febrile sixties. Her cool distance masks her determined and endearing attempt at self-preservation and search for identity.
Ann Charney was born in Poland, studied at McGill University and the Sorbonne, and lives in Montreal. The government of France named her Officier de l’Ordre Arts et des Lettres.