“A lovely gem.”
US Library Journal

“Its landscapes and characters will continue to haunt you, and its insights will continue to reverberate in your mind.”

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.

Ann Charney’s novels Dobryd and Rousseau’s Garden were published in the US, Canada, France, Germany and Italy. 



The art of the French formal garden and the spirit of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau inform this delightful and intelligent novel about a young woman who bewilderingly finds herself at an impasse.

Claire Symons is a successful photographer in her late thirties, accomplished, self possessed, respected. She is recently married to Adrian, an internationally renowned art historian whose specialty is the French garden as a work of art. But Claire’s bubble of happiness and security is pierced by unexplained panic attacks.

Claire believes that the source of her anxiety may lie in her unresolved feelings of abandonment, suffered at age 12 when her beloved mother Dolly died. In the months preceding her death, Dolly, an artist, had been in Paris. Something happened. Claire embarks on a quest to piece together the events in France that caused Dolly’s emotional crisis.

Paris has rarely appeared more lively or more engaging than among Dolly’s old friends, who have surmounted upheaval, dislocation, and vast change. They include the indomitable Marta, matriarch of an unruly clan, who holds the key to Dolly’s secret. Will she part with it and betray ancient pacts?

Claire also relies on her own dear women friends. Zoe, a psychoanalyst, mother of two, and has troubles of her own, is a foil for Claire. The Countess, custodian of a great garden and a relic of a former regime, looks forward unflinchingly to the close of an era. These women of varying generations help Claire resolve her past and point the way to her future.