Elvie, Girl Under Glass

By (author): Elvira Cordileone

Elvie, Girl Under Glass tells the poignant story of a child transplanted from a sunny mountain village in Italy to Montreal, Quebec, in 1952.

Raised in a household ruled by a cruel, controlling father, her desire to free herself from his oppression mirrors the French-language majority’s battle to wrest control of the province’s economic resources from the English-speaking elite.

Unlike some of the separatists who eventually turn violent, Elvie responds to her father’s growing strictures by withdrawing deeper into herself. Respite comes from the company of friends and long hours immersed in the thrall of books. Nevertheless, this coping mechanism results in an adult plagued by bouts of depression.

The memoir explores Elvie’s experience of growing up by the rules of an Italian household while navigating the French-English divide in Montreal with ease. She learns French on the streets of her lower-working-class neighbourhood and attends school in the English system.

Her efforts to break free of her constricting heritage coincide with the aftermath of Quebec’s Revolution of the 1960s and subsequent bloodshed and violence as the French-language majority wrests control of the province’s resources from the English elite.

Elvie, Girl Under Glass peeks into one person’s heart and soul as she seeks safe harbour.


Elvira Cordileone

I got on a ship with my mother in sunny Naples, Italy in 1952 at the age of 3. We landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and got on a train to Montreal to join my father. I learned French on the city’s poorer east-end streets with neighbourhood children, However, like most Italian immigrants at the time, my formal education was entirely in English.

I graduated from Sir George Williams University (since renamed Concordia) with a bachelor’s degree in English literature in 1972. The degree equipped me for little other than teaching. But teaching didn’t appeal to my sense of adventure so, instead, I took on and left or got fired from a long series of jobs: an invoice clerk in a jewelry factory; a child care worker in a prison for adolescent girls; a magazine production coordinator; a cost accounting clerk; an administrative assistant in a public affairs department, and publications manager for a national business association, among others.

I moved to Toronto in 1983. Six years later, after more dead-end jobs, I found my berth when the Toronto Star hired me as an editorial assistant. Another decade went before the Star promoted me to the job I’d long for – full-fledged reporter. I relished the work and kept at it for the next twelve years.

I left the Star in 2011 to devote myself to writing full-time.

I live in Toronto’s Riverdale area with my dog, Jojo.


There are no awards found for this book.
Excerpts & Samples ×
There are no other resources for this book.

Reader Reviews



325 Pages
9in * 6in * 0.7in


November 25, 2023


Renaissance Press



Book Subjects:


Featured In:

Congress 2024 Booklist



No author posts found.

Related Blog Posts

There are no posts with this book.