Shadows on the Rock

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Novel by Willa Cather, published in 1931.

Life in early 17th-century Quebec is depicted on this “rock” in the St. Lawrence, between visits by ships from France. Against a background of such figures as the Intendant, Frontenac, the rival bishops—generous, self-sacrificing old Bishop Laval and extravagant, haughty young Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier—and Mother Juschereau and her nuns are placed the stories of humble citizens. Euclide Auclair, “the philosopher apothecary,” has followed Frontenac from France, and after his wife's death lives with his daughter Cécile, cherishing memories of Europe. Cécile and her father befriend Jacques, son of a sailor and a woman of the town, 'Toinette Gaux. Among their friends are Bishop Laval; Noël Pommier, the cobbler; Father Hector Saint Cyr, the missionary; Antoine Frichette, the trapper; and Pierre Charron, coureur de bois and fur trader, a romantic figure driven to his lonely occupation by a love affair with a girl who chose to become a religious recluse. The apothecary is despondent at the death of Frontenac, and when Charron comes to cheer his friend, he discovers that he loves Cécile. They marry, and Jacques becomes a sailor, while Auclair, no longer caring to return to France, spends his last years on “the rock.”

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Willa Cather (1873—1947) American novelist and short-story writer

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