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Toi: a novel

Coquaz, Amandine Laurence Nadine


Amandine Laurence Nadine Coquaz


Emma Henderson


This thesis explores two sets of relationships: “mother tongue”/second language and mother/daughter.
My novel acts these out simultaneously: my main characters are a mother and a daughter and the tensions between them are played out in their relationship with language, one a firm Anglophone, the other having ‘converted’ to French. The novel is primarily set in Montréal, which is, as Sherry Simon argues, a ‘divided’ space. Mostly Francophone but with a significant Anglophone community, it is a site of encounters, tensions, cohabitations; but most of all, a site of translation. As such, the setting feeds and reflects the dialogue between mother and daughter: the tensions that arise, the common ground they seek. Both of their voices appear on the page as they share their stories with each other.
As a French national, living in England and writing in English about a predominantly Francophone province and city, I am actively questioning the relationship between mother tongue and second language. My unique creative position is what prompted my research into language and translation.
My critical project offers an unprecedented analysis of two contemporary Québécois texts, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill and Blanc dehors by Martine Delvaux. These texts are concerned with all kinds of languages: English and French but also silence. These languages share the page, which becomes a site of both conflict and reconciliation. These novels also explore tension-ridden mother/daughter relationships. In an interview I conducted with her, Lori Saint-Martin spoke of the need to negotiate a mutuality between mother and daughter. She also speaks of the importance of a dialogue that appears on the page. This is where the strands come together: my thesis explores encounters on the page, how languages cohabit, how mothers and daughters interact within one creative piece.


Coquaz, A. L. N. (2020). Toi: a novel. (Thesis). Keele University

Thesis Type Thesis
Additional Information Embargo on electronic copy access until 11 September 2025 - The thesis is due for publication, or the author is actively seeking to publish this material. For access to the hard copy thesis, check the University Library catalogue.
Award Date 2020-10

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