The Next Chapter

Donna Bailey Nurse remembers the talent of Nancy Richler

The Next Chapter columnist takes a look at two novels by the late Montreal author: 2002's Your Mouth is Lovely and 2012's The Imposter Bride.
Nancy Richler was an award-winning novelist from Montreal. (Micheal Beaulieu)

Nancy Richler, the talented author of the 2002 novel Your Mouth Is Lovely and the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize-shortlisted novel The Imposter Bride, died in 2018 at the age of 60.

The Next Chapter columnist Donna Bailey Nurse takes a renewed look at these books by the late author and novelist.

The Imposter Bride

"The Imposter Bride was worthy of being on the Giller shortlist back in 2012. It's a great, gripping mystery.  The novel was actually based on her real-life grandmother, a survivor of the Holocaust who arrived in Montreal after the Second World War from Eastern Europe. She came to Canada to have an arranged marriage, but when she arrived, just as in the book, she was rejected by the man she was to marry. 

"Nancy's real-life grandmother ends up marrying another man, who happened to be the brother of Mordecai Richler's grandfather. That's how she is connected to Mordecai. Although I'm not as familiar with Mordecai's work as I wish I was, it's great to compare Nancy's work with Mordecai's as two great literary ways of looking at Jewish life in Montreal; it's great to compare the two authors in that sense.

"The Imposter Bride is a gripping mystery about identity. It's so enriched with Richler's knowledge of literature and the Bible — and her way with images makes for such an enriching experience." 

Your Mouth Is Lovely

"This novel, I feel, really wasn't spoken of a great deal beyond the Jewish community. But I got to review it and fell massively in love with it. Set in Siberia following the Russian Revolution of 1905, Your Mouth Is Lovely is about the main character, a girl named Miriam, who loses her mother soon after she is born. There's a dark cloud hanging over her head all her life.

"Miriam is sent to live with her wet nurse who keeps her for several years until her father remarries. We end up seeing the village life through the eyes of all these surrogate mothers that Miriam has during her life. The imagery in this book is so vivid in the way the novel looks at life through the lens of all the female characters.

"The novel's title is actually a part of a verse from the Bible and there are other Bible verses in the book speaking to wisdom and history. So there's that power and resonance all the way through the book."

Donna Bailey Nurse's comments have been edited for length and clarity.


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