the torrents of hope

About the Book

The Torrents of Hope Cogito, 2020

La vallée du Richelieu, Bas-Canada, 1837. During a skirmish with soldiers of the British Empire, Stéphane Talbot’s father, an ardent Republican, disappears, leaving behind a distraught and penniless family – the family mill is in ruins – and a son animated by a ferocious hatred towards the English and especially towards Henry Blake, the officer responsible for this destruction. So Stéphane is not happy about the liaison between the Irish soldier Mervynn Parker and Catherine, his mother. Until the day Mervynn was sent to China with his regiment. Catherine, destitute, is forced to work as a maid while Stéphane joins the steamships of the St. Lawrence. During a stopover in Montreal, he meets Gustave Hamelin, an engineer who has just been hired by Henry Blake, Stéphane’s sworn enemy: he controls La Montreal Gas and Light. The two men come face to face… Les Torrents de l’espoir is a superb historical saga, full of breath and exoticism, written by one of Quebec’s best novelists, twice winner of the Governor General’s Award, the local Goncourt.

The Torrents of Hope

A Novel
by Pierre Turgeon

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The Jacques-Cartier River bewitched the summers of my childhood. It originates in the mountains north of Quebec, meanders through a valley cluttered with erratic boulders, digs fjords in the crumbly soils of Pont-Rouge, then joins the Saint-Laurent at Donnacona, thirty kilometers upstream from the Cap Diamond.
Some time ago, I felt the need to find the river and the country house in Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier that my family had left forever.

I had stopped believing that happiness demanded that we run away from our past. After an absence of forty years, nothing seemed to have changed in the rocky landscape, bristling with tall pines from another age. But the vague memories of a six-year-old did little to help me locate a lost paradise that I didn’t even know if it still existed.

Many times, at the bend of the road or from the top of a hill, I thought I recognized the vast house where I had been so happy. I only had one landmark: the dam my grandfather had built, and which was a five-minute walk from his property. I was certain that at the foot of this formidable concrete wall would still huddle the power station that once electrified Quebec City.

After hours of wandering, I finally came across a railway bridge where, as a child, I had often gone to play with my cousins. To the left of the bridge, a sign announced a property for sale or for rent. I pushed the barrier that defended the access of a gravel road and I went down a steep hill.

I hoped for a miracle, but time had shattered the icons of my childhood. A California-style villa had replaced the old mansion with dark shingles and narrow windows, and a vegetable garden was being cultivated where my grandfather had played croquet with government ministers.

No one answered my calls. I ran down the lawn to the river. Having pulled up my jeans, I took off my espadrilles and walked a little into the cool water of the Jacques-Cartier. Through the murmur of the river, I thought I heard distant voices.

PIERRE TURGEON

Born in Quebec, October 9, 1947 – The novelist and essayist Pierre Turgeon obtained a Bachelor of Arts in 1967. In 1969, at the age of twenty-two, already a journalist at Perspectives and literary critic at Radio-Canada, Pierre Turgeon creates the literary review L’Illettré with Victor-Lévy Beaulieu. The same year, he published his first novel, Sweet Poison. Several works followed 22 titles in total: novels, essays, plays, film scripts, and historical works. These include The First Person and The Radissonia, both of which win the Governor General’s Award for novel and essay respectively.

In 1975, he founded the Quinze publishing house, which he chaired until 1978. There he published numerous authors, including Marie-Claire Blais, Gérard Bessette, Jacques Godbout, Yves Thériault, Jacques Hébert, and Hubert Aquin, before becoming deputy director of the Presses of the University of Montreal (PUM) in 1978. Then, from 1979 to 1982, he directed the editions of the Sogides group, the most important French-language publisher in America. (Les Éditions de l’Homme, Le Jour, Les Quinze). He also publishes software, launching one of the first French text editors (Ultratexte) and the first French spell-checking program (Hugo). Editor-in-chief of the literary review Liberté from 1987 to 1998, he edited controversial issues on the October Crisis and the Oka Crisis, as well as on various political and cultural subjects.

In 1999, he created Trait d’union, a publishing house devoted to poetry, essays, and celebrity biographies, works signed among others by René Lévesque, Pierre Godin, Micheline Lachance, Margaret Atwood. He is the only Canadian publisher to have seen one of his books, a biography of Michael Jackson : Unmasked, reach number one on the New York Times bestseller list. In the meantime, the author continues to be prolific, and in 2000, he published a history of Canada, in collaboration with Don Gilmor, that won the Ex-Libris prize, awarded by the Association of Canadian Booksellers with the mention of Best History of Canada to date.

Today, he is working on the creation of a publishing site entirely devoted to the distribution of English and French eBooks: Cogito, which will go live in early 2021.

Pierre Turgeon has a passion for the past. Because he comes from Quebec City. Fasten your seatbelts, because you are going to travel. From the banks of the Jacques-Cartier River, in the prologue, through Grosse-Ile, Montreal and Dublin, from there to Crimea in China, Sudan, Egypt, all in less than 400 pages. Wars and water. – Anne-Marie Voisard, Le Soleil.

It is above all to history enthusiasts that Pierre Turgeon addresses in Les Torrents de l’espoir. What’s surprising, when you consider the obvious interest he has had in narrative with a historical content since his early days as a writer? Already, with Sweet Poison, he was already drawing on family annals. After dwelling on certain key events of the twentieth century – the rise of fascism in Hitler’s Boat, then the political situation in Quebec in the 1970s in Insurrection!, Turgeon took a great plunge into the past this time around, at the time of the Patriots’ rebellion. With its hectic rhythm and characters set in a harsh but captivating reality, Turgeon’s work is sure to enthrall those who like to let themselves be carried away by the images of a good story. – Claude Dessurault, See Québec.