Dead on Arrival

There’s no elegant way to eat cretons

Too much of today’s anglophone CanLit wants to be American TV, and, judging by Marie-­Renée Lavoie’s Autopsy of a Boring Wife (Autopsie d’une femme plate), Quebec is not immune to this condition. Lavoie’s Mister Roger and Me won the province’s version of CBC’s Canada Reads, the Survivor-­style competition of non-­literary book advocates discussing everything but literature. But I didn’t want to hold the dubious honour against her latest: an abandoned-­wife novel with an appealingly bleak title. After all, the scorned-­wife theme has given us literary gems as disparate as Fay Weldon’s The Life and Loves of a She-­Devil, Elena Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment, Carellin Brooks’s One Hundred Days of Rain, and Katie Kitamura’s A Separation.

Autopsy, sadly, turns out to be neither a fantastical revenge romp, nor a dive into the darker side of human...