The Postman’s Fiancée by Denis Theriault

The Postman’s Fiancée by Denis Thériault is a story about infatuation, love, haiku, and identity.

Tania moves from Bavaria to Montreal to fine-tune her French and fall in love. Waitressing at a restaurant frequented by ‘regulars’, she meets Bilodo, a shy postman who writes haiku and who is passionate about calligraphy.

He came through the door every day at noon, impeccable in his postman’s uniform. He was tall, rather thin and not exactly handsome, but his gentle eyes and timid smile made Tania go weak inside.

It’s love-at-first-sight for Tania but Bilodo, although polite, fails to respond to Tania’s advances –

Having done some research on calligraphy, she’d draw up his bill in Unical, a script he seemed to favour, and sign it with a ‘Tania’ embellished with discreet flourishes.

Tania’s approach to love is delightfully dramatic. Her lack of fear is admirable and also results in some of the more humorous moments in the story –

She regretted not having died the first time she’d read that poem, at the moment of her most perfect happiness…

One stormy day, their lives take a surprising turn, and become entwined in a way that neither could have predicted.

…Tania was overcome by a peculiar combination of bliss and anguish. It seemed to her that she could never be happier, and never more uneasy. So was that what it was like, true love?

There’s a quaint, fairytale quality to the narrative and changes to the fortunes of the characters happen in flashes, creating drama without overdoing the tension.

The old-fashioned epistolary relationship between two characters (they exchange haiku and tanka) occasionally bumps against modern communication technologies, stretching the plausibility of the story, but go with it.

3/5 A modern fairy-tale (with operatic overtones).

I received my copy of The Postman’s Fiancée from the publisher, Oneworld Publications, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

All my memories were buried inside the scent of a lemon tart.

This book qualifies for Novellas in November – find out more at Reading in Bed.

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