The Next Chapter

Joanna Goodman explores love, passion and politics in novel The Forgotten Daughter

The Montreal author spoke with Shelagh Rogers about her latest novel set in 1990s Quebec.
The Forgotten Daughter is a book by Joanna Goodman. (joannagoodman.com, HarperCollins Canada)

Joanna Goodman is a novelist originally from Montreal and now living in Toronto. She is also the author of The Home for Unwanted Girls.

Supporters of the Yes and No sides make their loyalties known with balcony signs on October 29, 1995. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

The storyline for Joanna Goodman's latest novel, The Forgotten Daughter, came to her more than 25 years ago: she was on a street in Montreal surrounded by crowds of people who were either celebrating or protesting. It was the night of the vote on the 1995 referendum on Quebec sovereignty.

The Forgotten Daughter is a love story between two intense young people, Veronique and James, who couldn't be more divided on Quebec independence. It also continues the story of Élodie, the main character from The Home for Unwanted Girls.

Goodman spoke with Shelagh Rogers about writing The Forgotten Daughter.

One October night in Montreal

"On the night of Oct. 30, 1995, I was actually at Metropolis, which was the 'No' headquarters in downtown Montreal. I was in my early 20s, and working as an intern for Reuters.

"Because I was home in Montreal to vote in the referendum, they asked me to go and be there and to back up their journalists that they had there.

There was this moment where this young guy, who was probably my age, was on his knees. He was handcuffed and he was saying, 'It's not over.' And I was just so impacted by his passion.

"Talk about an intense emotional roller coaster of a night. It was quite a wild ride being there. We poured out into the street. Just as we hit Sainte-Catherine Street, there was a big crowd coming up from the 'Yes' headquarters.

"They were as distraught and devastated as we were happy and joyful.

"It was a lot of young people. It started getting violent right away. People were throwing bricks at us and screaming and beer bottles flying. There was this moment where this young guy, who was probably my age, was on his knees.

"He was handcuffed and he was saying, 'It's not over.' I was so impacted by his passion."

Emotions were strong on Oct. 30, 1995, as vote results came in on the Quebec referendum. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

Different points of view

"Veronique and James are connected by passion. It's the passion for whatever you believe in. They're both ideological, self-righteous and so loyal to their causes. That is in large part why they connect so deeply. It's just that their views don't line up. 

"In some ways, their values are the same, which is the cause and loyalty and commitment. Then in other ways, they don't line up at all. 

Veronique and James are connected by passion. It's the passion for whatever you believe in.

"Veronique was raised by her father, who had no lines and no boundaries when it came to the cause. He's a man who spent the better part of his life and hers in jail for a crime he committed for the cause that he never apologizes for.

"He's raised Veronique that way. Her value system is so skewed and so different from James, and yet it is such a strong value system."

Joanna Goodman's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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