Maria Chapdelaine by Louis Hemon and W.H. Blake is another book I discovered while reading about Kerouac. The author, Louis Hemon was born in France and educated in Paris. Blake translated the book from its original French. This is a beautiful, moving, non-fiction book written by the author during his time in Quebec living and working among French-Canadians.
It took me a while to get into this book, but the end found me with tears in my eyes. The story centers on a family living and working on their farm in remote northern Quebec during the 1920’s. It is a story of hardship, but at the same time, it speaks of great courage, tradition, love of God and nature. The novel lovingly captures the spirit of the French-Canadian farmers and was of personal interest to Kerouac because his family came from French-Canada.
This story touched my heart and I wonder what other beautiful tales might have come from Hemon had he not met with a tragic end in a railway accident soon after this book was written. He was in his early 30’s. A great loss.