Marie-Renée Lavoie is ‘Boring’ her way to the truth

Marie-Renée Lavoie is ‘Boring’ her way to the truth
When Diane Delaunais’ husband of 25 years announces he loves someone else — a blonde, 30-year-old “someone else” — her life careens off track. He’s long been bored, it seems. Her fault, obviously: “I was born boring.”

Boring no more. Diane embarks on a rollicking “body and soul” autopsy of life and marriage. Whether we’re laughing or crying during her attempts to get fit or her sessions with a shrink — we like this woman tremendously, as does just about everyone else — her friends, her quirky neighbours, the tattooed construction guy working down the road.

Autopsy of a Boring Wife, by Marie-Renée Lavoie, trans. by Arielle Aaronson, House of Anansi Press, 280 pp., $22.95  (Anansi)

Quebec author Marie-Renée Lavoie has published Autopsy of a Boring Wife, translated by Arielle Aaronson, from House of Anansi Press.  (Martine Doyon / House of Anansi)

The strange, and strangely human thing is — even as we see her husband’s flaws in sharp focus — she clings to her image of him as Jacques-the-prince. Worse, she feels shame about being dumped, which happily impedes neither her volcanic approach to redecorating nor her domestic revenge skills.

It’s not just Diane, of course. A brief glance around unveils a marital battlefield strewn with the fallen, for instance her best friend and staunch ally, Claudine, ditched for a student who’s read “all of Heidegger.” Perfect. As are the laughs at Claudine’s nasty old dad’s funeral, when women seize the chance to shout the truth about the deceased.

As the youngest sister praises her old dad, “a miniscule old woman” stands and shouts “HE DIDN’T WANT YOU!” pointing dramatically at the deceased’s coffin. Death is a great time to settle old scores, observes Diane, noting the widow’s barely-contained laughter as the truth spills forth.

Most enchanting, perhaps, are Diane’s new blue boots. They come and they go, these boots, footwear from a fairy tale. After she gives them away to her office crush (for his wife), they magically reappear, stuffed with bottles of wine. Stained after a roadside bladder emergency, they’re tossed into a ditch.

Stocking-footed, she limps to an isolated cabin, where a mysterious nonagenarian gives her advice, soup, and new slippers. “It had been ages since a gift had touched me this much.”

Our Cinderella-in-reverse, shod in handknit slippers that don’t quite fit, at last follows her bumpy road home, finding solace in, well, being Diane. Lavoie’s fiercely hilarious take on the pains and triumphs of marital abandonment feels perfectly right.

As Diane’s saga clearly shows us, we don’t need a prince to make us happy; life can be sunnier on the independent side of the street.
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