4 July 2018

Monique Chainet: La Folie-Bâton (1984; repr. 2015)

Monique Chainet was in fact born in Le Havre, although this fictionalised novel is set in the Berry area, where she spent a great deal of time with her grandparents, and this – as the back cover mentions – is a homage to them. It covers a number of years, through World War II, to the time she left for the United States to learn there of the death of her grandmother.

Unlike some regional novels that tend to sentimentalise the past and the people of the past, this is without such sentiment. There are many recollections of activities of the rural past, but they serve more as descriptions of the way life was, and the way people spoke in the area: there is no equivalent of the Kailyard mentality.

Nor is there any romantic interest: the author is interested in learning about the wider world, not in marriage, and her attitude is a very subtly liberated one with no sexual contacts. I enjoyed it.

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