Coming of Age in 1960’s/70’s Quebec

In this first volume we follow Charles from birth in 1966 through elementary school. His mother dies when is very young and his father is an alcoholic who doesn’t care for his son. He’s both neglectful and abusive. We follow Charles through good times and bad. We also get a glimpse into the place and politics of Montreal at the time.

I realized soon after I started this book, why it was labeled ‘The Dog Years. Dogs from all over the neighborhood follow Charles everywhere he goes. It really rang true for me, because I also had a dog following when I was growing up. My mom dislikes animals so I was not allowed to have pets of my own, but in a way I did because there were always dogs nearby when I was outside. I was happy that Charle finally got a dog of his own, unlike I who had to wait until adulthood.

Though this book is depressing at times, Charles has an endurable spirit that is contagious. He is a delightful boy that captured my heart. Though I found the first couple chapters a bit slow and tedious, Beauchemin really weaves a wonderful story with rich scenery and characters.

I look forward to reading the other three volumes of Charles the Bold and highly recommend this book. I predict that it will become a Canadian Classic, it certainly should.
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