“À train perdue” by Jocelyne Saucier: the journey of a lifetime

Jocelyne Saucier's

Nine years after the publication of her bestseller Il pleuvait des oiseaux , recently adapted for the cinema, the writer Jocelyne Saucier invites readers to follow her in an astonishing novel which lingers along the railway lines of the remote regions of the North of the Quebec and northern Ontario: À train perdue .

Its narrator, a skilful detective, tells the extraordinary journey of Gladys, a woman whose trace is lost, between her childhood in the school trains and her complex relationship with her daughter.

Gladys, an elderly woman, strolls aboard the trains which crisscross the North, like a vagabond. No one really knows where it is going or for what purpose. Some have seen it pass, others disembark, but everything remains a bit hazy. Intrigued, the narrator meets the people she has known and goes back through the story. He tells about his life, his friendships, but at the same time a North full of hope and the quest for freedom.

Lost train
Jocelyne Saucier,
XYZ editions,
264 pages. “> On the loose
Jocelyne Saucier,

XYZ editions,
264 pages.

The novel was born of an elderly woman she saw on a train between Cochrane and Toronto a few years ago. “The trip is long and I saw an old lady, very small, skinny, in her seat, and who had not moved the entire trip. And yet it was a 9 or 11 hour journey, ”recounts Jocelyne Saucier, a good storyteller.

“She ate her sandwiches, she read her magazines. All the people were talking to each other … but she wasn't talking to anyone. I was writing It was raining birds when the old lady came into my life. ”

The writer went to seek extraordinary finds, specific to the territory and to the history of the railway, in her novel. Oddly enough, she doesn't harbor a fascination with trains and isn't one of those train buffs she talks about in the book. “I have a fascination with them.”

These people have an all-consuming passion for trains. “There are Australians who come to Canada to travel from Montreal to Senneterre. The conductors know them and recognize them. There is a brotherhood of train buffs . ”

Ontario Walks

Jocelyne Saucier, in the process of documenting and locating this novel, walked through the small towns of northern Ontario. She met a lot of people who told her about amazing things, including school trains , those train cars that served as rolling schools in some remote areas.

“It's another gift of life… I was doing my research in Ontario for It was raining birds , and I met a survivor of the great fires. His wife was a school trainer , and she started talking to me about this. And then I searched, I searched … and no one knew about that. ”

She went for a walk in libraries, museums, and managed to meet old school trainers , including one lady in particular. “She is a semi-hermit who did her education until grade 10 in these schools. She had very fond memories of it. It was above all her who impressed me: her positivism, the happiness she had. ”

By wanting to serve the story of Gladys, Jocelyne immortalized tasty anecdotes, like the alleged passage of Leon Trotsky in Kirkland Lake … and a town bearing the name of Swastika. “Yes, the place does exist, nearly 30 km from Rouyn-Noranda.”

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