The Tin Flute is a novel written by Gabrielle Roy. This work is her first novel, and it was published originally in French in 1945. It was originally named Bonheur D’occasion, which translates into chance, or secondhand happiness. It was translated into English in 1947, and the title was changed into The Tin Flute, which is a toy that Daniel receives when he is near death. This novel, though her first, is completely filled with Roy’s unique sense of empathy and understanding, resonating throughout her narration of a struggling family in Montreal. The Tin Flute won several awards, including the Governor General’s Award as well as the Prix Femina of France. In addition, the novel was made into a movie in 1983.
The Lacasse family is deep in poverty and ignorance, struggling in the Saint-Henri slums of Montreal. The slum is full of working class people just like the Lacasse family, and The Tin Flute takes place during World War II. Florentine Lacasse is working at a restaurant, helping her parents earn money and keep their very large family alive. Some of the themes that Roy explores in her novel are about losses and setbacks, loneliness and abandonment, the futility of war, the complex emotion of love, and sexism.