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Rousseau's Garden    by Ann Charney order for
Rousseau's Garden
by Ann Charney
Order:  USA  Can
Véhicule Press, 2001 (2001)
Hardcover, Softcover
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Rousseau's Garden is the gentle story - told in a compelling and emotional fashion - of a young woman's search for her mother's past. Dolly was a recognized sculptor who, when Claire was twelve, left her home in Montreal to pursue her art in Paris. The Dolly who returned was not the mother Claire remembered. Sure that something happened while Dolly was working in Paris, Claire was determined to suss out the difficulty that turned her mother into an introspective, morose woman who died in a car crash six months after her return to Montreal.

Claire is in Paris with her husband Adrian as he pursues his life's work. Claire uses the time to retrace her mother's steps, and renews a friendship with Dolly's friend Marta. What Claire learns about herself is possibly more important than tracking her mother's Paris life. Claire suffers panic attacks and wonders if this malady could have been the cause of her mother's malaise. Dolly's devotion to philosopher Jean-Jacques Rosseau played an important role in her thinking. Claire tries to understand her mother's fascination with this most contrary of persons.

Claire's – and Dolly's – story is told with magnificent simplicity. The reader could easily be with Claire as she walks the streets and gardens of Paris. Ann Charney is an award winning writer - reading Rosseau's Garden, it is easy to understand why.

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