Today I’ll talk about a novel that I read during the summer holidays. It’s called Marie-Blanche, written by Jim Fergus and published in 2012 (he wrote“A thousand white women”, another pleasant story).
I’m warning you, there are trash scenes in this book, but it’s paradoxically interesting to see how two members of a family can become so close that their relation ends tragically. The main theme in this story is the life of Renée, Marie-Blanche’s mother and the narrator’s grandmother.
The novel begins with a visit of Jim to his grandmother, Renée, 96 years old. He hates this woman who has destroyed her own family and never loved Marie-Blanche; this one has gone through many depressions and rehab. Little by little, Jim will retrace the incredible story of Renée to understand her a little more.
Born at Senlis, a little French region, Renée will know an unusual destiny. Very young, she’ll try to separate her mother from her lover, who is… her uncle ! But quicky, he’ll seduce her whereas she’s 12 years old; after the ruin of her parents, the little girl will follow him in Egypt. Violent and pedophile, he marries Renée and takes her virginity few days before her return to France. She’s 15 and will never forget this relationship, passionate but destructive. She’ll marry two other men later, and have two children of her second husband: Marie-Blanche and Toto. Cold, tyranical, Renée made each person she has met unhappy, and her children make no exception. Marie-Blanche tries to follow the steps of her mother in seducing many men, but finally she sinks into despair after her wedding with Jim’s father. Her life has begun like a fairy tale but very quickly it has became a nightmare. Alcoholic, she was committed in a clinic in 1966 and later she committed suicide. Jim and her sister never forgave her for having left them without a world of love (in fact, Marie-Blanche was very touched by the death of her first son and couldn’t give her love to anyone after that).
I think that it’s a really interesting and moving story. I have liked it so much that I read it in barely two days ! It was impossible for me to stop reading until the end. The relationship between Renée and her uncle was really complicated and kind of perverted, but it helps us and Jim to understand a little bit better why she was so cold with the others. Marie-Blanche has moved me, because she has always searched the love of Renée even if she rejected her since she was born. I’m divided about Renée because she has never really been innocent, even in her childhood, and her behavior disgusted me sometimes. In the book, she identifies herself to a nightingale in a cage, observed by a cat (who represents her uncle). Indeed, I have to admit that she hasn’t been considered as a child by her own family and the relatives they had; she was a luxious doll that her father was flaunting with pride. This lack of love is the cause of her disinterested-ness toward her own children and husband.
I recommend you this book if you’re not afraid of 606 fine pages written really small and by the topic of incest. Some scenes between Renée and Gabriel (her uncle) are shocking so it could disturb you. But it’s well-written and the story uncommon…
This review is now finished ! Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and goodbye !