Contemporary Canadian Literature with a Distinctly Urban Twist

Anvil Press

The Lily Pad and the Spider

The Lily Pad and the Spider

  • canada orders $18
  • us/world orders $15
You’re afraid of spiders, heights, sickness, and the way other people look at you. Afraid you’ll be betrayed, abandoned, and that the fortune-teller’s predictions will come true. You stop smoking, you avoid insects and medical advice, you stop going on stage, taking the airplane, falling in love, leaning over the balcony rail. You don’t take your driving test and you start reading novels from the end, as if putting on a chastity belt. You think you are well protected, you will never be caught off-guard, nothing will surprise you. Then a butterfly is discovered in your chest, and you feel its wings beating. It is too late to ignore the sensation.

An autobiographical essay on fear, The Lily Pad and the Spider (Le nénuphar et l’araignée) explores the symptoms, sources, and genesis of anxiety, from the most intimate to the most ordinary kind. Using short chapters that are fragments of her life, Claire Legendre breaks down the psychological, physical, and social mechanisms associated with that emotion. Her style is lively, often funny, sometimes dark — though never complacent — and the story traces a unique path between France, Canada, and the Czech Republic, casting a defiant yet vulnerable gaze upon the world.

The Lily Pad and the Spider (Le nénuphar et l’araignée) was a finalist for the 2016 Quebec Booksellers’ Prize in the Quebec novel category.

Praise for Le nénuphar at l’araignée:

“With the same humour present in her previous books, Legendre observes and recounts her panics with the sharpness of an entomologist dissecting a beetle.”
— Guylaine Massoutre, Le Devoir

“Claire Legendre explores skillfully and sincerely the symptoms, the sources, and the origins of anxiety, from the most ordinary to the most private.”
— Marie-France Bornais, Le journal de Montreal “For the past fifteen years, Claire Legendre has been writing between reality and fiction, with amazingly funny and nightmarish depth.”
— Christine Ferniot, Télérama

“Claire Legendre identifies her fears with words and anxieties put to paper in a last attempt to express what the body has perhaps kept hidden for too long.”
— Un dernier livre avant la fin du monde (French blog)


  • Publication: November, 2020
  • ISBN: 978-1-77214-152-8
  • Pages: 96 pps.
  • Size: 5 x 8 inches

Claire Legendre was born in Nice in 1979. From her first book, Making-Of, published when she was only eighteen, the writer has worked both the detective and confessional fields, with Viande, La méthode Stanislavski, L’écorchée vive, and Photobiographies. She lived in Rome, at the Villa Medicis in 2000, and in Prague, before settling in Quebec, where she has taught creative writing at the Université de Montréal since 2011.

Books by Claire Legendre