The Epiphany, 1916. On an unforgivingly cold winter’s night in Val-Jalbert, Lac-Saint-Jean, a twelve month-old child, wrapped in furs, is discovered by a nun from the convent school. The discovery of this abandoned girl, possibly afflicted by the dreaded chicken pox, deeply upsets the nuns from Notre-Dame-Bon-Conseil who have just taken on their teaching duties. Val-Jalbert, a small factory-town built at the foot of the Ouiatchouan River, is run by the pulp and paper company. The villagers are hard-working and have everything they need. Life in Val-Jalbert flows in an orderly fashion, morally irreproachable.
The child of the night increasingly disrupts the nuns and their neighbors, the Marois family, who eventually take her in. But where does Marie-Hermine, with eyes so blue, come from? Why did her parents drop her off like a heavy burden on the steps of the convent school? Over the years, the orphan girl will become affectionately known as ‘‘the Winter Nightingale’’ because of her extroardinary voice, and she will become the pride of the factory village which is later abandoned, doomed after the closure of the industry in 1927. Homes are now empty, gardens left unattended, and the nuns leave the barren village. During these unfortunate incidents, Marie-Hermine’s past resurfaces and jealousies erupt, such as the love of a young métis named Toshan, encountered during a trip to Lac-Saint-Jean.
Snowchild is a novel written in typical Marie-Bernadette Dupuy style, complete with all the successful tools she has mastered over the years with Les Éditions JCL: family secrets, child orphans, unexpected coincidences, impossible and unlikely love situations, etc. This renowned author has mastered the art of breathing life into her novels and of constantly generating interest. The distinct French flavor she lends to her writing as well as the postcard images she conjures help to guide readers who are passionate about times past to Lac-Saint-Jean, Val Jalbert and its surroundings.
Translated from french canadian language by Kyle Mooney.