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Biography & Autobiography Women

The Secret of the Blue Trunk

by (author) Lise Dion

translated by Liedewij Hawke

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2013
Women, Religious, Historical
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2013
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2013
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2013
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


2014 Forest of Reading, White Pine Award — Winner, Nonfiction

The true story of how a young Québécois nun ended up a prisoner of war in Buchenwald and how her daughter discovered her secrets.

In this true story, Armande Martel, a young nun from Quebec, is arrested by the Germans in 1940 during a stay at her religious order’s mother house in Brittany. She spends the war years in a German concentration camp. After her return to Canada, she leaves the Church, finds the love of her life in Montreal, and adopts Lise Dion.

Growing up, Lise is familiar with only a few facts of her mother’s past. It’s when she clears her mother’s small apartment after her death that Lise Dion discovers the key to the blue trunk, which was always locked. This key unlocks the mystery of Armande’s early life, and Lise decides to write The Secret of the Blue Trunk.

About the authors

Lise Dion is an actor and a scriptwriter. In her writing career, spanning 20 years she has written thousands of lines, for herself and for others. Her comedy shows have attracted the applause of thousands. In addition to a successful stage career, Dion has also been successful on the small screen; in the role of Laura Cadieux on television, she brings to life the character created by Michel Tremblay. Dion is also a businesswoman, creating 6th Sense Management in 2004.

Lise Dion's profile page

Liedewij Hawke has won the John Glassco Translation Prize and has been nominated four times for the Governor General's Literary Award for Translation (French to English), winning it in 1986 when it was still called the Canada Council Translation Prize. She lives in Toronto.

Liedewij Hawke's profile page


  • Winner, Forest of Reading, White Pine Nonfiction

Editorial Reviews

…painfully frank and absorbing, and in the end, difficult to put down.

Globe and Mail

Dion’s reconstructed narrative offers a new (and specifically Quebecois) voice, one that is refreshingly direct and compulsively readable.

Montreal Review of Books

The secrets Dion unravelled are so extraordinary, Armande’s tale so poignant, it made me think about the Diary of Anne Frank. The Secret of the Blue Trunk is a stellar Canadian biography.

Toronto Star

It is pure, fast-paced narrative.

National Post

...touching and commendable...

Quill & Quire

It is a terrible and tragic story that Dion has written, told in stark and straightforward words.

Waterloo Record

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