Friday Fiction: Monique’s Nightmare

Breaker, Breaker
Hollywood Dogs

La Calvaire de MoniqueLe Calvaire de Monique
de Francheville
1953

Submitter: I submit this book even if it is in French as it is my favorite weeded book of all time. The title “Le calvaire de Monique” means pretty much “Monique’s nightmare.” However, as you can see, Monique never lost her great smile! The history is also delightful : Monique is a young French-Canadian who has two prospects : a poor but honest French-Canadian-Catholic guy and Peter, a wealthy Anglo-Protestant man. Monique wishes to have a better life than her parents so she decided to marry the Protestant one. OMG OMG OMG! Their interfaith relationship turns sour (of course) and Monique is left alone with a baby by her English husband. This is a cruel lesson for a young women who wanted to be “modern” and decided to get married outside the Catholic Church.

Holly: At first glance, it looks like a delightful 1950s book about a delightful 1950s girl. (Still a weeder – this copy is being held together with tape and a prayer.) The story line Submitter describes definitely sounds nightmarish. “Calvaire” translates (in Google Translate, anyway…I don’t speak French) to Calvary, which is the place where Jesus was crucified. The poor dear was certainly punished for her transgressions, from the sounds of it. In 1953 this must have been quite controversial!

11 comments

  1. This reminds me of book I found in my parents basement as a kid, “Sixty Saints for Catholic Girls.” It was left over from my mother’s Catholic elementary school days, and being a voracious reader, I tore through it. The moral of all of the stories seemed to be that good girls listen to their elders and obey the rules. Some how they even managed to make that the moral of Joan of Arc. My mom sat me down and explained the definition of propaganda to me when she saw me reading that one.

    1. It was written when things started to change in Québec. In fact, this Publisher (Fides) was (still is) pretty conservative and Catholic-oriented, even today. One of the critics I red was that this collection was established to warn women of the dangers of modernity. Makes sense.

  2. A priest didn’t want my mom, who is also Catholic, to get married to my dad who is a different religion. They did anyway and are still happily together, so how do you say “In your face, book!” in French? 🙂

    1. 🙂
      I am trying to think of a satisfying translation for “In your face”. We use the litteral translation “Dans ta face” sometimes but it is not really “good French”…
      The better one I could think of would be “Tiens, toi!” or, in French-Canadian “Kin toé!”

  3. Holly’s right. Nightmare, in French, is ‘Cauchemar’.
    Unfortunately, my highschool French didn’t cover rude phrases! Lol! Google translate does suggest ‘Prend ça, livre!’, though, for ‘Take that, book!, if that helps, any, Lora?

    My (One Catholic, one not) parents have just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, too, so, it would seem that this ‘message’ is not entirely accurate! 🙂
    Unless, maybe the fact that Dad was never wealthy, has something to do with it? Lol!

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