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.
Canadian author Dupont (Life in the Court of Matane) spins an unwieldy yarn spanning from the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic in rural Quebec to Rome in the early days of the new millennium. In 1918 Rivi re-du-Loup, Canada, Louis Lamontagne is born during a live nativity scene to an American mother. Louis, nicknamed "the Horse" due to his size, is raised by his grandmother Old Ma Madeleine and grows into a strongman performer, touring county fairs in America. He then enlists during WWII, participates in the liberation of Dachau, and returns to the U.S., where he marries a local girl and becomes a washed up drunk. Moving forward to the mid 1960s, his daughter, Madeleine, is embarrassed by Louis and devotes her energy to her twin sons. The second half of the story follows the different paths of the twin boys: Gabriel becomes a muscled seducer of women (unknowingly in his grandfather's vein) and moves to Berlin; Michel becomes a world class opera singer, filming a new version of Puccini's Tosca in Rome. As the novel accelerates toward the finale, the disparate threads interweave heavy-handedly with the characters converging on the Roman film set. While jam-packed with family secrets and deceptions, Dupont's sprawling tale also risks reader exhaustion. Those who enjoy sprawling family sagas and are willing to put in the work will find this outing has its rewards.