18 April 2018

Claude Michelet: Rocheflame (1982)

This is a very old house, in fact a farm, on a dry plateau once called Rocheflame, but now named Rocsèche. And this story is in fact two stories, set in the fifteenth and the the twentieth centuries. The stories alternate all the way through the novel: the earlier one concerns Jehan Bonavi and his wife Catherine, and the later one Michel Delabat and his wife Françoise and family.

In some respects the story is slightly similar: Jehan is very happy farming the land but the Baron de Nillac owns the property and wants Jehan to leave it to serve as his den where he can take any beautiful girl he fancies without his wife suspecting anything; Michel also farms the land but Françoise detests the tedium and the poverty, yearns for such things as the cinema and the madness of the city, and wants to leave.

Jehan and his troubles take up much more of the book than Michel and his family, largely because of the existence of Chinglar, who is a kind of evil male witch who bears grudges, and from the beginning wants to cast a spell on de Nillac but Jehan isn't in agreement. And for this reason Jehan will have his property invaded, his cat nailed to the barn door, his peaceful dogs savaging each other, and his barley crop vandalised. Before, that is, Jehan's skilful archery can put paid to Chinglar: but at what price?

Michel has it pretty cushy by comparison: his reason tells him to go for the money, although his heart tells him he'll never leave Rocsèche. But then, Françoise's father might be able to find work for her in his business and that's little more than thirty minutes away, so maybe they can come to a compromise?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post.