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The Country Will Bring Us No Peace

My daughter Becca has become a voracious reader, and I have directly benefitted from this. She’s worked her way through double the number of books I have this year, if not more, and I’ve been very grateful to receive her recommendations (and borrow her books). Courtesy of Becca, my standout read so far this year has been THE COUNTRY WILL BRING US NO PEACE, a short (125 pages) but remarkably powerful novel by MATTHIEU SIMARD.


Simon and Marie can’t seem to have a baby. They decide to flee the city for an idyllic village, where things, they tell themselves, must be better. But their new home is gloomy, threatening, tinged with tragedy – things have not been the same since the factory closed down and the broadcast antenna was erected. In the trees, no birds are singing, and people have started disappearing… The Country Will Bring Us No Peace is celebrated Quebecois author Matthieu Simard’s first work to be translated into English and published in the UK; a strange and poignant novella exploring grief and its aftermath.

Despite its relative brevity, this is a remarkable read that lives long in the memory. It’s extraordinarily atmospheric and has, at the same time, both a fragile beauty and a relentless bleakness. Switching between Simon and Marie’s individual perspectives, and also between present day and flashbacks, the story feels almost dystopian in its description of two desperate people who’ve relocated to an equally broken, run down place. But the dystopia here really lies in the shattered lives of the main characters.

The writing is superb. So disarmingly powerful that despite revealing the ending within the first couple of pages, Simard’s prose is such that it’s easy to forget what you’ve already been told and fully focus on the tragic couple’s plight.

Without ever resorting to cliche, Simard flirts with genre tropes (the unfriendly/overfriendly/mysterious villagers, the ambiguous presence of an antenna in the woods which may – or may not – be somehow linked to whatever happened to the town) and yet this remains a focussed and wholly original novella. At its core the book is about grief and how it affects us, and the isolating unfriendliness of the setting leaves Simon and Marie stranded initially on an island of familiarity, brought together by the disorientation of everything else. Despite having set out its stall early on, the novella somehow still keeps you guessing, still keeps you looking over your shoulder.

There’s a wonderful sense of sadness and dread that drips off every page of THE COUNTRY WILL BRING US NO PEACE. It’s one of those stories that disarms you through its simplicity, then blindsides you with its resolution. Highly recommended.

THE COUNTRY WILL BRING US NO PEACE is published by INFLUX PRESS. You can pick up a copy from AMAZON, BOOKSHOP, and others.