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Adieu, Betty Crocker

by François Gravel Sheila Fischman

Adieu, Betty Crocker continues the very well received Fillion Family Saga, which began with A Good Life and was followed by The Extraordinary Garden. In this, the third volume, Benoît investigates the life of his mother's sister, Arlette, who was a domestic presence in the extended family, but who remained a mystery to her nephew. Arlette's story appears simple at the first: she was a traditional stay-at-home mother in the 1960s and 1970s, with a home in the suburbs of Montreal, two children, and a husband who drove buses. She was always prepared for visitors, with Rice Krispies Squares or cookies on her ultra-spotless table. When her husband died in a freak accident, she was left financially well off; she should have been comfortable. But something was wrong -- something on which Benoît is not able to put his finger. Through beautiful prose and a glorious translation, the reader discovers the story of Arlette in the voices of her nephew, her son, her daughter, and, finally, herself. A tragedy, the story of Arlette is also a story of grace, courage under pressure.

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