Arlette Cousture, novelist (b at Saint-Lambert 3 Apr 1948). With a Bachelor of Arts from collège Sainte-Marie and education in cultural and theatre activities from the Université du Québec à Montréal, Arlette Cousture practised various professions before devoting herself to writing. She initially worked for Radio-Canada television where she moderated Caméra-Moto
(1971-1972), a weekly programme for youth, then she became a researcher and developed programme ideas for radio such as Week-end
(1973-1975). Later, she hosted Femmes d'aujourd'hui
(1975-1978), and in 1978 became a national and regional reporter for le Téléjournal
. She then held various positions in Hydro-Québec, all related to communications (1979-1987). The first two volumes of Les Filles de Caleb
(Le Chant du coq
and Le Cri de l'oie blanche
) appeared respectively in 1985 and 1986 for Éditions Québec-Amérique. The novel would be published several times, notably by Éditions de la Table ronde (1988-1989). It was inspired by the countryside, set in la Mauricie in the years 1890 to 1945. The heroine, Emilie Bordeleau, both a teacher and mother of a large family, is married to a man who works in a woodcutter's camp and is rarely home. Cousture's serial writing style enabled Les Filles de Caleb
to become a bestseller and be adapted for television in 1989. If the genre is not unanimously accepted, Arlette Cousture`s work at least succeeds in reconstructing a time and place where land and life are inseparable. The family saga continued with the publication of Émilie
(Pocket, 1993), a novel that went back in time and witnessed Émilie's determination to become a teacher. Blanche
, the third novel in the series and also adapted for television (notably by the French channel FR3), tells the fate of Ovila and Émilie's youngest daughter, who practises as a nurse among the pioneers in Abitibi. Les Filles de Caleb
received several honours including First Prize from Communication-Jeunesse and the Prix du public from the Salon du Livre de Montréal (1987). Arlette Cousture was named literary personality of the year in 1987.
Another family saga entitled Ces Enfants d'ailleurs (vol 1, 1993; vol 2, 1995) portrays the integration to Canada of a Polish family during the Second World War. This novel won the Journal de Montréal Readers' Grand Prize (1995). Finally, J'aurais voulu vous dire William (Libre Expression, 1998), a novel of an entirely different construction, is quite an ambitious work. It is a more intimate story that proposes an incursion into the world of madness. Arlette Cousture has moreover, on several occasions, chosen to use her popularity for noble causes such as public awareness of multiple sclerosis and handicapped children. She is on the board of directors of "Fonds Émilie Bordeleau" at the Université de Montréal. For her activity in promoting education she has received le Prix d'honneur from the Alliance des professeures et professeurs de Montréal.
DELPHINE LE ROUX