In this extraordinary breakout novel—a rich, devastatingly humorous epic of one unforgettable family—award-winning author Eric Dupont illuminates the magic of stories, the bonds of family, and the twists of fate and fortune to transform our lives.
Over the course of the twentieth century, three generations of the Lamontagnes will weather love, passion, jealousy, revenge, and death. Their complicated family dynamic—as dramatic as Puccini’s legendary opera, Tosca—will propel their rise, and fall, and take them around the world . . . until they finally confront the secrets of their complicated pasts.
Born on Christmas, Louis Lamontagne, the family’s patriarch, is a larger-than-life lothario and raconteur who inherits his mother’s teal eyes and his father’s brutish good looks and whose charms travel beyond Quebec, across the state of New York where he wins at county fairs as a larger-than-life strongman, and even in Europe, where he is deployed for the US Army during World War II. We meet his daughter, Madeleine, who opens a successful chain of diners using the recipes from her grandmother, the original American Fiancée, and vows never to return to her hometown. And we end with her son Gabriel, another ladies’ man in the family, who falls in love with a woman he follows to Berlin and discovers unexpected connections there to the Lamontagne family that re-frame the entire course of the events in the book.
An unholy marriage of John Irving and Gary Shteyngart with the irresistible whimsy of Elizabeth McCracken, The American Fiancée is a big, bold, wildly ambitious novel that introduces a dynamic new voice to contemporary literature.
Translated from the French by Peter McCambridge.
About the Author
Eric Dupont is an author, teacher and translator from Montreal. His French-language novel La Logeuse won the Combats des livres. He was a finalist for both the Prix littéraire France-Québec and the Prix des cinq continents. He was the winner of the Prix littéraire des collégiens and the Prix des libraires. His fourth novel, The American Fiancee was on the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist and was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for translation.
“I loved The American Fiancée for its heart and scope. Dupont leads us through the tale with grace, cunning, wit, and high intelligence. It’s a brilliant tribute not only to the unforgettable Lamontagne clan, but to the art of storytelling.” — Patrick deWitt, author of French Exit
“The American Fiancée is a wild, joyful cacophony of rumors, tragedies, and loose ends that come together in a gravity-defying feat. Like the best of family lore, it will remind you of the first tales you were ever told, and why you love stories in the first place.” — Thea Lim, author of An Ocean of Minutes
“Francophones are at the heart of our history, our identity, and our success as a country. For centuries, Francophones have helped build the strong, inclusive Canada we know today – while Francophone voices have brought Canadian stories to the world. Thanks to writers like Eric Dupont, that’s as true today as ever. The American Fiancée is a testament to the power of storytelling – and the Canadians who bring that tradition to life.” — Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
“Both heartbreaking and hilarious.” — Publishers Weekly
“Dupont’s spellbinding tale spectacularly drives home the wonders of long-form storytelling.” — Booklist (starred review)
“Dupont's bruiser of a novel begins as a traditional family saga set in a small, early-20th-century Quebec village before swerving into new, less linear, and more psychologically demanding territory. Everyone's version of events differs here; there's no trusting who's hero, victim, or villain—or what's real; parallels accumulate; every casually mentioned detail becomes important as truths are revealed….the sweet, sour, and salty world Dupont creates is thoroughly addictive.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)