Paris, 1975. Camille sifts through letters of condolence after her mother's death when a strange, handwritten missive stops her short.Read more...
Paris, 1975. Camille sifts through letters of condolence after her mother's death when a strange, handwritten missive stops her short. At first she believes she received it by mistake. But then, a new letter arrives each week from a mysterious stranger, Louis, who seems intent on recounting the story of his first love, Annie. They were separated in the years before World War II when Annie befriended a wealthy, barren couple and fell victim to a merciless plot just as German troops arrive in Paris. But also awaiting Camille's discovery is the other side of the story, which will call into question Annie's innocence and reveal the devastating consequences of jealousy and revenge. As Camille reads on, she begins to realize that her own life may be the next chapter in this tragic story.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-09-17
- Reviewer: Staff
Set in Paris in 1975, Gremillon’s absorbing debut begins when Camille Werner receives a long, unsigned, handwritten letter among the condolence notes after her mother’s death. Already in a state of shock, both from the unexpected death and from breaking up with her boyfriend after his casual mention of not wanting children when Camille told him she was pregnant, Camille becomes fascinated with the correspondent’s tale of a budding romance between two teenage friends, Annie and Louis, in a small town on the cusp of WWII. Camille becomes convinced that it is this Louis who wrote to her, though she assumes her receipt of the missives is a mistake. In subsequent letters (which are differentiated from Camille’s narrative by the use of fonts), Louis spins his tale of a love that became doomed when Annie was befriended by a young, wealthy, and unhappy Parisian couple. As a book editor, Camille wonders if Louis (who never signs the letters) is trying to wangle a publishing contract. But when he reveals that Annie has a daughter born around the time of Camille’s own birth, Camille becomes obsessed with locating Louis and getting the whole story behind his letters. Finely written, unabashedly romantic, and full of twists, this novel will grip readers until the end. Agent: Rebecca Byers, Plon-Perrin Presses de la Renaissance. (Nov.)
A love revealed through letters
Hélène Grémillon’s debut novel, The Confidant, begins with an air of tragedy. In 1975 Paris, Camille is mourning the death of her mother, opening condolence letter after condolence letter. She discovers an unusual letter in the pile from a man named Louis, who tells the story of his first (and perhaps only) love, Annie. The two met in pre-WWII Paris, and fell in love—until Annie abruptly cuts him out of her life.
Camille, a publisher, initially believes that this must be a manuscript from a professional writer. But the letters keep coming. Eventually Annie’s side of the story is revealed—and Camille realizes she might be receiving the letters for a reason.
Told cleverly, and in several different voices, The Confidant—which won its author France’s Prince Pierre Literary Prize—builds a rhythm of passion, tragedy and revenge, leading readers to the startling, satisfying conclusion.