Aurore!  The Mystery of the Martyred Child

Benoît Tessier (pseudonym of Yves Thériault): Le drame d’Aurore (The Drama of Aurore) (1952)

Yves Thériault is no doubt the greatest Quebec author to have turned his attention to the Fortierville events. He did so in 1952, under the pseudonym of Benoît Tessier. Thériault wrote the novel in the early stages of his literary career, before his great bestsellers, such as Aaron and Agaguk. He probably wrote it quite quickly, as he had the habit of doing, and most probably to take advantage of the general craze caused by the film's release. Publishing a novel on the story of Aurore the child martyr in 1952 meant success, and, by the very fact, an assured income.


Aurore has been living alone with her father since her mother died. They live in a small, not very beautiful house on a poor plot of land where nothing grows. They don't appear to have much money. Aurore's father decides to take a second wife, Mélanie, a cold and authoritarian woman. The start of the ill treatment follows. After having noticed much strange behaviour, the neighbours intervene and go and get Aurore who is locked in a shed on a very cold night. Unfortunately, Aurore dies. The police arrest Mélanie, who denies everything and tries to have her husband take her side. The novel ends with the trial of Mélanie, who is sentenced to be hanged, but she dies during childbirth before the appointed date.


Aurore: Aurore is eleven years old. She is fearful, nervous, reserved and sickly. She has very pale skin.

The father: Odilon Gratton is a thickset, gruff and hard man, who doesn't speak much and who doesn't want to mingle with his neighbours. He likes to have a quick drink of alcohol from time to time.

The mother: Rosa is a gentle, patient woman, but thin and weak and often sick.

The stepmother: Mélanie is a childless widow. She is a tall, fat woman with a hard face and in very good health.

The neighbour: Blanche Allain is a pious, curious woman, with a tall, strong physique. She is married and the mother of eight children.

About the author:

THÉRIAULT, Yves [Benoît Tessier] (1915-1983). Novelist, storyteller, short-story writer, playwright and essayist, born in Quebec City. His family moved to Montreal very early on. He studied at the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce parochial school and a year at Mont-Saint-Louis (1921-1929). […] His first book, Contes pour un homme seul, was published in 1944. It consisted of about twenty rather short narratives, of various forms, in a tight, dense and often poetic style, which told strange stories with full, excessive and rebellious characters -- creatures of instinct and violence that would often be seen again in Thériault's work. Critics were pleasantly surprised, and Guy Sylvestre declared that the storyteller had revitalized the genre. As for the public, it was won over straight off and would remain faithful to the author. Yves Thériault would almost never stop after that, and would become Quebec's most prolific writer, one of the few to earn a living by their pen. His works include about forty novels, stories and narratives for adults, about twenty books for children, several stage plays, without counting some 1200 texts for radio, over 200 for television, in addition to several hundred short, popular novels published anonymously or using pseudonyms, which he wrote to practice his writing and earn money. […] When he died in Rawdon in October 1983, this man was acclaimed the father of Quebec literature. […]

Taken from Hamel, Réginald et al., Dictionnaire des auteurs de langue française en Amérique du nord, Montréal, Fides, 1989, p. 1283-1284.


Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History