About this book
Fanny Britt • Susan Ouriou • Christelle MorelliReader's Guide ↓
Tessa is a thirty-seven-year-old real estate agent living in Montreal. She adores her husband and three young sons, but she’s deeply unhappy and questioning the set of choices that have led to her present life.
After a surprising run-in with Francis, her ex-boyfriend and first love, Tessa arranges to see him. During the three days before their meeting, she goes about her daily life — there’s swimming lessons, science projects, and dirty dishes. As the day of her meeting with Francis draws closer she has to decide if she is willing to disrupt her stable, loving family life for an uncertain future with him.
With startling clarity and emotional force, Fanny Britt gives us a complex portrait of a woman and a marriage from the inside out.
Évelyne is crying in earnest now. I take her hand. I say yes, her house is fabulous. I myself would buy it if I could. It will make some family very happy just as hers was for several years.
My client nods, I know she finds the idea comforting — all my clients do. There must be some solace in thinking your house will go on living apart from you, like an extension, a promise renewed no matter the hardships or failures, bestowing sudden meaning on sorrow. Personally, it's all a mystery to me since I have no desire to see others blossom where I once withered away — but then I'm not a very nice person.
Évelyne shows me the rest of her house: two children's bedrooms. In the first room, a cream-coloured quilt in a delicate pattern of pink and pale-green buttercups and peonies. A number of lively drawings on the walls, all signed SOLENE. In the second bedroom, blue and green stripes, dinosaur figurines, wood letters painted red hanging on the door: MATTEO. Évelyne was astute enough to keep the walls white. It won't be as difficult for potential buyers to project their own lives onto them — nothing is less helpful than a pink bedroom covered in princess decals for the morale of a mother with two sons who longs for the daughter she never had and hopes to find in her new abode the secret formula that will at last guarantee her the perfect family she's dreamt of since childhood. I respond to the client with all the solicitude I can muster, Who knows, this house could be a lucky charm, but when, guilt-ridden at having downplayed the worth of the children she does have, she grabs hold of my arm, My boys are wonderful, I love them so much, after all, what counts is that they're healthy, no? Do you have children? and I answer, Yes, three boys, for the space of a second, she's caught between wanting to be me and relief that she isn't. Her coral lips give the faintest, saddest smile ever smiled and she murmurs: Three boys. That's quite something, isn't it.
About the Creators
FANNY BRITT is a writer, playwright, and translator. She has written a dozen plays and translated more than fifteen. She is the winner of the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award in Drama for her play Bienveillance. Jane, the Fox and Me, her first graphic novel, was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award in Children’s Literature — Text, won a Libris Award, a Joe Shuster award, and was on the New York Times Best Illustrated Books list.
SUSAN OURIOU is considered to be one of Québec’s finest translators of literary fiction. With Christine Morelli, she has previously translated Fanny Britt’s acclaimed novel Hunting Houses for Arachnide.
CHRISTELLE MORELLI is a literary translator and French immersion teacher. She has translated several works of fiction for publication, including Jane, the Fox and Me and Stolen Sisters. Having lived in Quebec and France, she now makes her home with her family in Western Canada.
Awards and Praise
"Fanny Britt has a unique gift for revealing the lining of the everyday, and showing how complex and explosive and profound it can be. Her prose is sleek, her humour sharp, and her voice fuelled by kindness, rooted in truth. Hunting Houses reads like a story you thought you knew, then you realize that Britt does not write characters, she writes humans; humans always have layers, and they are always astonishing." — Catherine Leroux, author of The Party Wall
"Fanny Britt’s Hunting Houses is as transparent and true a picture of startling, soul-seizing, everyday love as you’ll ever come across in fiction. But here, also, is the kind of haunting temptation that can threaten enduring love, the hairline crack from the past that promises to break apart everything that matters. Think Chekhov’s Lady with Lapdog or poor Madame Bovary or Anna Karenina — if those women were to fall in love in 80s Montreal, if they had to line up all night on the sidewalk waiting for Pearl Jam tickets, if they grew up to be real estate agents with an eye for homey interiors and faults in the foundation. Think of all the subtle, complex deals women make with themselves to stay true. In bone-honest, luminous prose, Britt shows the nature of lust and how we can become the playthings of our past desires, however illusory." — Lisa Moore, award-winning author of February and Caught
"Britt’s novel is an unflinching reminder that heartbreak doesn’t discriminate. . . . Britt reveals, moment by moment, the lifetime of a woman caught between the expectations of motherhood and personal fulfillment." — Metro
"Britt is especially strong at capturing the hyper-vulnerability a mother can feel on behalf of her children . . . In capturing and sustaining that intense emotional pitch, the novel is spiritual kin to Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Adult Onset and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin . . . Translators Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli do an exemplary job of rendering Britt’s prose crisply and idiomatically." — The Montreal Gazette