The Years of Fire

Charles the Bold, Volume 2

Publisher: Douglas Gibson Books
The second novel in the highly acclaimed series Charles the Bold, about a young man growing up in east-end Montreal.

“Montreal! You’re going to be hearing from me! I’m going to make your ears ring!”

These are the last words in this hypnotically interesting saga that follow the adventurous life of our bold hero, Charles Thibodeau.

This book takes us through his high school years, and is called The Years of Fire for three reasons. First, he discovers girls, and we follow his fumbling but enthusiastic adventures with them. Second, he becomes fired up about politics (“Every so often he would raise his right hand and stare at it in amazement. Just think, it has just shaken the hand of René Lévesque!”) and the first Quebec referendum plays a major role in this book. Above all, fire changes his life when his estranged father threatens his stepfather’s store with arson, and Charles gets involved in dealing drugs to pay him off. How he escapes from his contacts with the pool-hall underworld, with the help of his friends, and emerges as an ambitious young writer makes for involving and fascinating reading, provided by a superb storyteller.

From the Hardcover edition.


Charles the Bold is a truly astonishing work. A beautifully crafted portrait of the artist as a young child, of a boy seeking shelter in a world over which he holds little power, and of a Quebec awakening to a new political reality. From the yellow dog to Fernand Fafard, this is a novel overflowing with unforgettable characters. I never wanted it to end, and when it did, I wanted to leap immediately into Wayne Grady’s luminous translation of the next volume. I only hope that Charles the Bold will claim its place as one of the great works of Canadian literature.”
— Madeleine Thien

From the Hardcover edition.