Where Nests the Water Hen

ISBN: 0771098545
ISBN 13: 9780771098543
By: Gabrielle Roy Sandra Birdsell

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Canadian Canadian Literature Currently Reading Fiction Incompletely Investigated Read Now To Read Twentieth Century University Of Toronto Western

About this book

The story of Where Nests the Water Hen is as pure as the lives of the people in it – and as unforgettable. Set in the remote wilderness of northern Manitoba, this sunny, tender idyll of daily frontier life captures, as few novels ever have, the spirit and the surroundings of the pioneers – not the adventurers and trailblazers who make the headlines, but rather the humble folk who follow after and remain, living out their lives in obscurity to keep the trails open.Where Nests the Water Hen, Gabrielle Roy’s second novel, is a sensitive and sympathetic tale that captures both the innocence and the vitality of a sparsely populated frontier.

Reader's Thoughts


Un western à la canadienne. Trop beau.


I was referred to Gabrielle Roy by reading a book on women writers.Gabrielle Roy was French and lived in Manitoba in the 1930sThis book is a novel about a family living on an island.The mother goes to the city when she has children which is almost every other year.In order to have her children get an education she write to the Canadian government and asks for a school.She gets her request and over the years the school has many different teachers.The teachers come to teach her 7 kids in a small school they have built next to their home.Gabrielle Roy writes so beautifully.Her descriptions of this family and the people in the closest village are wonderful.I will read more of Gabrielle Roy's books.


Not yet completed... not a gripping novel. But a great description of life in rural Quebec at the beginning of this century. Better read in French I am sure.. but I fell upon this copy in my local gym. STill reading..


Wonderful domestic fiction of life of a French-Canadian family on a remote island in West-Central Manitoba.


Set in Northern Manitoba, a quiet and evocative book. This is the only book by Gabrielle Roy I've read--she's perhaps best known for 'The Tin Flute'. I rarely see her books here in the US, but if you walk into a Canadian bookstore, you'll see a long shelf. Makes you realize how many authors we miss out on!


What a wonderful snapshot of life in rural Manitoba. First published in 1952 there are some descriptors that would be considered politically incorrect by today's standards. But I really enjoyed the character and a sense of what they all loved about this rugged, remote part of Canada in the early 1900s.


I've never been to nothern Manitoba, but I feel as if I have after reading this gentle and humble story. It was truly a pleasant read.


This cross between a novel and short-story collection is about two people--Luzina Tousignant, mother of about a dozen or so children; and Father Joseph-Marie, a missionary Capuchin monk--who live out their lives on the edge of civilization (northern Manitoba in between the Wars), yet who are filled with a love of humanity without regard to creed or colour or language or ethnicity, and, in their way, bring to their communities and their families the best of what humanity can do for each other: sacrifice, love, music, education, and justice. And they're so delightful to read about.


Je viens de finir de lire La Petite Poule d'Eau de Gabrielle Roy, roman canadien de 1950.J'ai beaucoup aimé ce texte. Il raconte la vie d'une petite communauté au fin fond du Manitoba Luzina Tousignant, mère de famille nombreuse, part tous les ans vers la ville et revient avec un nouveau bébé.Elle finit par penser qu'une école d'été serait une bonne chose pour ses enfants. C'est ainsi qu'arrive Mademoiselle Côté, une charmante jeune enseignante, nouvellement diplômée. Le décor est parfaitement bien rendu, les personnages touchants, parfois amusants. le côté exotique et froid est très intéressant (surtout en ces temps de neige.)Ce roman sera au programme des Coups de Coeur de la médiathèque de Melun mardi 20, à 16h


I read this as a kid for school and really liked it, but I can't remember a thing...

Timothy Bazzett

Obviously - only three stars - I did not like this book nearly as much as I did Roy's first novel, THE TIN FLUTE. It started out well enough, with its colorful description of life on the Manitoba muskeg frontier and the large French-Canadian brood of heroine Luzina Tousignant and her stolid workhorse husband Hippolyte. But then, about two-thirds of the way through WHERE NESTS THE WATER HEN, Roy seems to lose focus, makes a 180-degree turn, and begins to tell the story of the old itinerant Capuchin missionary priest. This abrupt change of protagonist never quite worked for me, even when Roy brings the priest finally around to the Tousignant outpost, throwing in too a flashback to earlier times in the family story. While the priest was an interesting enough character, I would have preferred to hear the rest of Luzina's story, because she was what really held it all together - or should have. While I still wouldn't hesitate to recommend THE TIN FLUTE, this second book was something of a disappointment, so I probably won't bother to read any more of Roy's stuff, famous though she may have been in Canada.

Greta Roussos

If you have an interest in the North Manitoba and its' people, places & playgrounds, then you might like Gabrielle Roys' story. Would like to reread her in the original French and then visit the areas of this memoir.

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