Author of several successful series, including The nurses of Our Lady, the novelist Marylène Pion invites its readers to the heart of the Red Light montreal, at the end of the 1920s, in his new novel, The Cabaret. Variety shows, brothels, the stars of passage : the fates of the characters intersect, on a background of music, dance and alcohol, between the two world wars.
In 1929, Ian Hughes returns to Montréal after the death of his father. Exiled to New York for a few years and ruined by the prohibition, and the stock market crash, he inherits an old warehouse fur located in the heart of the red light district of Montreal.
With the assistance of his associate Alexander Davis, a long-time friend, he decides to open a cabaret. Ian and Alexander must remain in the good graces of the intriguing Ms. Candy, who leads quietly, but firmly all over the neighborhood by opening the Heaven’s Club.
Like many young women of the time, Charlotte Délisle is looking for a way out of the misery. The opening of the cabaret offers him a chance to leave the brothel of Mrs. Candy, where she does not have the reputation of being very friendly with the customers. She gets a job of “cigarette girl” and hangs on as long as she can.
Ian and Charlotte, two beings flayed by life, will have their destinies intersect in this novel, which shows the behind the scenes in the cabarets and brothels of the time.
Marylène Pion has enjoyed working on this period effervescent the history of montreal. “In doing research for other novels, I stumbled on it by chance. I had put it in a small sector… but it had piqued my curiosity, ” she said, in an interview.
“In Montreal, there was no prohibition, so all the artists that could not occur in the United States came here. It was the golden age of cabaret. All the excitement of the cabaret was going on to Montreal and a lot of musicians came there. Despite the economic crisis, it was a period quite good for the cabarets in Montreal. “
She was surprised to discover that in the United States, the cabarets illegal and speakeasy‘s were commonplace while in Montreal, he was different. “The businesses had a storefront. It surprised me to see that people could drink alcohol in the bars. In the United States, there was a curfew while here, it was completely the opposite. I wanted to reflect this difference with the United States. “
The brothels were illegal, but tolerated, she added. “This was not well-seen from the point of view of the Church, but it was tolerated. Often, the owners of brothels soudoyaient the police. It was a world of corruption. “What she shows through the character of Candice, who takes care of his “girls” and looks after its image and its ” public relations “.
The wrath of Charlotte
Marylène Pion love the character of Charlotte, a young girl torn between constraints and choice. “Outside of marriage, women did not have a lot of future, she says. Charlotte wants to get out. She did not really have the choice. But she is angry. “
Marylène Pion shows all the difficulties experienced by his characters,… pushes them to tackle obstacles and gives them hope. Charlotte flourishes along the way and showing resilience, as is Ian, who wants to free themselves from family pressures. “He wants to prove that he can succeed and pull through even though his father is no longer there. ”
His novel echoes of the current crisis. “It was something else at the time. But you need to see the resourcefulness of the human being, the resilience. People are able to get out of there and it can be transposed in the time that we are living in. We can use the history to reflect what we live today. ”
- Marylène Pion has written several successful series, including The nurses of Our Lady, The general store and Rumors of a village.
- She lives in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
- She is working on a next trilogy, which will take place at the beginning of the 20th century.
“ Dressed in his uniform and holding his tray full of cigarette packages, Charlotte stood back in the room and was absently the show. Once again, she could only admire the talent of May and her companions. Charlotte tried to smile despite the despondency she felt. She had read the classifieds, scoured the area on foot, but had not found affordable housing among those that were displayed. “
– Marylène Pion, The Cabaret, The Editors gathered