Review: The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches

The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches is the third novel of Canadian author Gaétan Soucy, and probably his best-known work. This is one of those novels which are difficult to summarize, but I´m trying for a review, not a blurb so here goes nothing:

On a vast and neglected estate, the I narrator, together with brother, father, and The Fair Punishment, lives isolated from the rest of the world. The story opens with the death of the siblings´ authoritarian father, and for the first time in their lives, they have to make decisions on their own. One such decision takes the narrator to the nearby village, entering the outside world and bringing outsiders back into the siblings´ own small world.

Since the narrator has never ventured beyong the estate all the knowledge of the world comes from the state libary. The language is perfectly understandable, however, there are many instances where the choice of word made me pause. Like the story itself, something seems to be not quite right. The strange phrasing, and the word play seem to have been very well-translated and emphasize the closed-off world of the siblings. Still, if your French is up to it, I would recommend reading the original.

The book is very short and easy to read, but will probably leave you quite disturbed long after the last page. This is one of those reads where you know that something dark lies beneath, an impression that is only heightened by the calm slow way the story unfolds itself. The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches is both beautiful and horrifying in a timeless sort of way.

I enjoyed this book as much as you can "enjoy" this type of story, and I seem to have a soft spot for slow, disturbing novels. I would perhaps go as far as to say that if you enjoyed Shirley Jackson´s We Have Always Lived in the Castle or Poppy Adams´ The Behaviour of Moths or even Poe, then you are likely to relish Soucy´s novel.

And once you have read The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches, let me know what you thought of the depiction of gender roles!

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