3 May 2016

Marie-France Pisier: Le Bal du gouverneur (1984)

Marie-France Pisier (1944–2011) was born in Đà Lạt, Vietnam (then called Indochina), before the Dien-Bien-Phu regime and where she spent her first six years. Her second six years were spent in New Caledonia, where Le Bal du gouverneur is set. Pisier is best known as an actor, particularly in François Truffaut's 'Antoine Doinel' films, although she also co-wrote the screenplays of Jacques Rivette's Céline et Julie vont en bateau (1974) and Truffaut's L'Amour en fuite (1979). She directed and wrote the screenplay of the cinematic versions of her novels Le Bal du gouverneur (1990) and Comme un avion (2002). Her death in her swimming pool at St-Cyr-sur-mer is something of a mystery and was probably due to a heart attack or something similar, but suicide seems extremely unlikely.

Le Bal du gouverneur is Pisier's first novel, and is set in New Caledonia amid conflicts at the turn of the French colony into French overseas territory. Théa Forestier is the protagonist, the fourteen-to fifteen-year-old daughter of the general secretary of New Caledonia. Isabelle Demur is her best friend, and the novel depicts the two girls' sexual and psychological development against a backdrop of industrial discontent in this, an important nickel-producing country.

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