Tuesday 16 August 1870, Alain de Money, makes his way to the village fair. He plans to buy a heifer for a needy neighbour and find a roofer to repair the roof of the barn of a poor acquaintance. He arrives at two o’clock. Two hours later, the crowd has gone crazy; they have lynched, tortured, burned and eaten him. How could such a horror be possible? (from Goodreads)
Yes. That happened (although the eating part was never proved).
When I read the back cover of this book I thought it was purely non-fictional. The fact that it was novelized, I believe, certainly reinforces the atrocity of the facts as it humanizes the main character, making it easier to empathize with his desperate situation. On the other hand, it also permits certain “poetic licence”, reimagining and creating dialogues and relations between characters, to reinforce certain gruesome aspects of the story, that may have never happened.
One way or another, it was far from being a pleasurable reading, and by this I don’t mean that it’s not a good work. It’s just hard to read, definitely not for those of weak stomach, heart, impressionable minds, etc
Interesting enough, it has some transcripts from the judicial process that followed the slaughter. And, for those interested in a more business-like and less personal rendition of the affair, the French Wikipedia article is very good (and I recommend the French one because is the most complete and extense).