Top 5 Wednesday #1 • Favorite Tropes

J’inaugure un nouveau rendez-vous sur le blog avec le Top 5 Wednesday. Je ne pense pas forcément participer toutes les semaines, mais si le thème me plait et me parle, c’est avec plaisir que j’y réagirai. Les sujets sont annoncés chaque mois sur le groupe Goodreads.

Thème : Favorite Tropes

Avant de me lancer dans cet article, j’ai fait quelques recherches sur ce terme de tropes et sur ce qu’il pouvait signifiait en français. Le meilleur terme que j’ai trouvé est celui de lieux communs. À titre d’exemples, dans les romances, ce seraient les fausses relations amoureuses ou tout ce qui touche à la royauté, les mariages de convenance… Pour le fantastique, ce sont les thématiques d’un•e Élu•e, sauver le monde… Pour mes cinq « lieux communs » préférés, j’ai essayé de tirer un exemple parmi mes plus récentes lectures, ou, du moins, depuis le début d’année.

1. La quête

L’exemple le plus parlant est sans conteste la quête du Graal. Je pense aussi au Seigneur des Anneaux de J.R.R. Tolkien. C’est un lieu commun que j’apprécie beaucoup. Dans mon esprit, il y a toujours le côté partir à l’aventure, aller vers l’inconnu, sortir de sa zone de confort… Le personnage principal va tirer des connaissances, des expériences de son voyage.

Un des derniers livres que j’ai pu lire et qui représente parfaitement cette idée de quête est le troisième tome de la série La Passe-Miroir, La mémoire de Babel. De manière général, la série raconte la quête d’Ophélie et Thorn pour découvrir l’identité de Dieu et l’arrêter.

Thorn a disparu depuis deux ans et demi et Ophélie désespère. Les indices trouvés dans le livre de Farouk et les informations livrées par Dieu mènent toutes à l’arche de Babel, dépositaire des archives mémorielles du monde. Ophélie décide de s’y rendre sous une fausse identité.

2. Une relique ou un artefact puissant•e

S’il est doublé d’une quête, c’est encore mieux ! Je pense que mon amour pour ce genre de lieux communs vient d’Indiana Jones, qui est présenté comme un chasseur de reliques et de trésor (même si, en réalité, il est plus un pilleur de tombes). Certaines d’entre elles ont des propriétés magiques. En littérature, il y a, à nouveau, la quête du Graal, ou les thrillers ésotériques, genres dont je raffole.

Et c’est justement un thriller ésotérique que je vais prendre en exemple avec une des mes toutes dernières lectures. Elle date du début du mois. Il s’agit du troisième tome de la dernière série d’Éric Giacometti et Jacques Ravenne, Soleil noir, La relique du chaos. Les reliques (très particulières pour le coup) ont un caractère mystique et magique.

Juillet 1942. Jamais l’issue du conflit n’a semblé aussi incertaine. Si l’Angleterre a écarté tout risque d’invasion, la Russie de Staline plie sous les coups de boutoir des armées d’Hitler. L’Europe est sur le point de basculer. À travers la quête des Swastikas, la guerre occulte se déchaîne pour tenter de faire pencher la balance. Celui qui s’emparera de l’objet sacré remportera la victoire. Tristan Marcas, agent double au passé obscur, part à la recherche du trésor des Romanov, qui cache, selon le dernier des tsars, l’ultime relique. À Berlin, Moscou et Londres, la course contre la montre est lancée, entraînant dans une spirale vertigineuse Erika, l’archéologue allemande et Laure, la jeune résistante française…

3. Un amour impossible

La faute à Roméo et Juliette de Shakespeare, qui est une de mes pièces préférées au monde. Je prend ce thème ou lieux commun dans un sens très large, car des raisons pour lesquelles un amour peut être impossible sont variées.

Un des derniers livres que j’ai lu et qui peut illustrer ce sujet est Follow me to ground de Sue Rainsford. Il s’agit d’une histoire d’amour entre une sorcière et un mortel qui est vu d’un mauvais oeil par les familles des deux protagonistes.

LIEN VERS L’ARTICLE

Ada and her father, touched by the power to heal illness, live on the edge of a village where they help sick locals—or “Cures”—by cracking open their damaged bodies or temporarily burying them in the reviving, dangerous Ground nearby. Ada, a being both more and less than human, is mostly uninterested in the Cures, until she meets a man named Samson. When they strike up an affair, to the displeasure of her father and Samson’s widowed, pregnant sister, Ada is torn between her old way of life and new possibilities with her lover—and eventually comes to a decision that will forever change Samson, the town, and the Ground itself.

4. Un conflit avec un dieu

C’est un lieu commun qui, pour le coup, brasse très large. Il me rappelle à la fois les récits bibliques, la mythologie grecque… Je pense aussi à des livres fantastiques ou de science-fiction, les réécritures autour des mythes et légendes.

Un livre que j’ai très récemment lu (et apprécié) et dans lequel l’intrigue a pour origine un conflit avec un dieu est Lore d’Alexandra Bracken. Le conflit est entre Zeus et les dieux, les anciens et les nouveaux dieux, les dieux avec les chasseurs… L’auteur s’inspire de la mythologie grecque.

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality. Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.

5. Les sagas familiales

Je lis pas mal de sagas familiales, surtout par des auteurs russes. J’aime suivre le destin d’une famille sur une ou plusieurs générations. J’ai tellement d’exemples qui me viennent à l’esprit comme La saga moscovite de Vassily Axionov, Guerre & Paix de Léon Tolstoï (terminé en début d’année).

Cependant, si je dois prendre un exemple dans mes lectures très récentes, ce sont les Rougon-Macquart de Zola qui arrivent en premier. C’est aussi un des grands exemples de sagas familiales et celle-ci compte près de vingt tomes. Au début du mois, j’ai terminé le septième tome, L’Assommoir qui est un coup de coeur.

Qu’est-ce qui nous fascine dans la vie « simple et tranquille » de Gervaise Macquart ? Pourquoi le destin de cette petite blanchisseuse montée de Provence à Paris nous touche-t-il tant aujourd’hui encore ? Que nous disent les exclus du quartier de la Goutte-d’Or version Second Empire ? L’existence douloureuse de Gervaise est avant tout une passion où s’expriment une intense volonté de vivre, une générosité sans faille, un sens aigu de l’intimité comme de la fête. Et tant pis si, la fatalité aidant, divers «assommoirs» – un accident de travail, l’alcool, les «autres», la faim – ont finalement raison d’elle et des siens. Gervaise aura parcouru une glorieuse trajectoire dans sa déchéance même. Relisons L’Assommoir, cette «passion de Gervaise», cet étonnant chef-d’oeuvre, avec des yeux neufs.

Quels sont vos « lieux communs » préférés en littérature ? Quels en sont les meilleurs exemples ?

Sorties VO • Janvier 2021

Après un mois de Décembre un peu léger, Janvier semble être tout le contraire. De nombreuses publications alléchantes sont proposées. N’hésitez pas à me dire en commentaire lesquelles vous font le plus envie !

Don’t tell a soul • Kirsten Miller • Delacorte Press • 384 pages • 26 janvier

People say the house is cursed.
It preys on the weakest, and young women are its favorite victims.
In Louth, they’re called the Dead Girls.

All Bram wanted was to disappear—from her old life, her family’s past, and from the scandal that continues to haunt her. The only place left to go is Louth, the tiny town on the Hudson River where her uncle, James, has been renovating an old mansion.
But James is haunted by his own ghosts. Months earlier, his beloved wife died in a fire that people say was set by her daughter. The tragedy left James a shell of the man Bram knew—and destroyed half the house he’d so lovingly restored.
The manor is creepy, and so are the locals. The people of Louth don’t want outsiders like Bram in their town, and with each passing day she’s discovering that the rumors they spread are just as disturbing as the secrets they hide. Most frightening of all are the legends they tell about the Dead Girls. Girls whose lives were cut short in the very house Bram now calls home.
The terrifying reality is that the Dead Girls may have never left the manor. And if Bram looks too hard into the town’s haunted past, she might not either.

Esnared in the wolf lair : Inside the 1944 Plot to Kill Hitler and the Ghost Children of His Revenge • Ann Bausum • National Geographic Kids • 144 pages • 12 janvier

« I’ve come on orders from Berlin to fetch the three children. »–Gestapo agent, August 24, 1944
With those chilling words Christa von Hofacker and her younger siblings found themselves ensnared in a web of family punishment designed to please one man-Adolf Hitler. The furious dictator sought merciless revenge against not only Christa’s father and the other Germans who had just tried to overthrow his government. He wanted to torment their relatives, too, regardless of age or stature. All of them. Including every last child.

The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames • Justine Cowan • Harper • 320 pages • 12 janvier

Justine had always been told that her mother came from royal blood. The proof could be found in her mother’s elegance, her uppercrust London accent—and in a cryptic letter hinting at her claim to a country estate. But beneath the polished veneer lay a fearsome, unpredictable temper that drove Justine from home the moment she was old enough to escape. Years later, when her mother sent her an envelope filled with secrets from the past, Justine buried it in the back of an old filing cabinet.

Overcome with grief after her mother’s death, Justine found herself drawn back to that envelope. Its contents revealed a mystery that stretched back to the early years of World War II and beyond, into the dark corridors of the Hospital for the Maintenance and Education of Exposed and Deserted Young Children. Established in the eighteenth century to raise “bastard” children to clean chamber pots for England’s ruling class, the institution was tied to some of history’s most influential figures and events. From its role in the development of solitary confinement and human medical experimentation to the creation of the British Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts, its impact on Western culture continues to reverberate. It was also the environment that shaped a young girl known as Dorothy Soames, who bravely withstood years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of a sadistic headmistress—a resilient child who dreamed of escape as German bombers rained death from the skies.

The Children’s Train • Viola Ardone • HarperVia • 320 pages • 12 janvier

Though Mussolini and the fascists have been defeated, the war has devastated Italy, especially the south. Seven-year-old Amerigo lives with his mother Antonietta in Naples, surviving on odd jobs and his wits like the rest of the poor in his neighborhood. But one day, Amerigo learns that a train will take him away from the rubble-strewn streets of the city to spend the winter with a family in the north, where he will be safe and have warm clothes and food to eat. 

Together with thousands of other southern children, Amerigo will cross the entire peninsula to a new life. Through his curious, innocent eyes, we see a nation rising from the ashes of war, reborn. As he comes to enjoy his new surroundings and the possibilities for a better future, Amerigo will make the heartbreaking choice to leave his mother and become a member of his adoptive family.

In the Garden of Spite • Camilla Bruce • Berkley • 480 pages • 19 janvier

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte. The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

The House on Vesper Sands • Paraic O’Donnell • Tin House Books • 408 pages • 12 janvier

On the case is Inspector Cutter, a detective as sharp and committed to his work as he is wryly hilarious. Gideon Bliss, a Cambridge dropout in love with one of the missing girls, stumbles into a role as Cutter’s sidekick. And clever young journalist Octavia Hillingdon sees the case as a chance to tell a story that matters—despite her employer’s preference that she stick to a women’s society column. As Inspector Cutter peels back the mystery layer by layer, he leads them all, at last, to the secrets that lie hidden at the house on Vesper Sands.

The Historians • Cecilia Eckbäck • Harper Perennial • 464 pages • 12 janvier

It is 1943 and Sweden’s neutrality in the war is under pressure. Laura Dahlgren, the bright, young right-hand of the chief negotiator to Germany, is privy to these tensions, even as she tries to keep her head down in the mounting fray. However, when Laura’s best friend from university, Britta, is discovered murdered in cold blood, Laura is determined to find the killer.

Prior to her death, Britta sent a report on the racial profiling in Scandinavia to the secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jens Regnell. In the middle of negotiating a delicate alliance with Hitler and the Nazis, Jens doesn’t understand why he’s received the report. When the pursuit of Britta’s murderer leads Laura to his door, the two join forces to get at the truth.

But as Jens and Laura attempt to untangle the mysterious circumstance surrounding Britta’s death, they only become more mired in a web of lies and deceit. This trail will lead to a conspiracy that could topple their nation’s identity—a conspiracy some in Sweden will try to keep hidden at any cost.

Faye, Faraway • Helen Fischer • Gallery Books • 304 pages • 26 janvier

Faye is a thirty-seven-year-old happily married mother of two young daughters. Every night, before she puts them to bed, she whispers to them: “You are good, you are kind, you are clever, you are funny.” She’s determined that they never doubt for a minute that their mother loves them unconditionally. After all, her own mother Jeanie had died when she was only seven years old and Faye has never gotten over that intense pain of losing her.

But one day, her life is turned upside down when she finds herself in 1977, the year before her mother died. Suddenly, she has the chance to reconnect with her long-lost mother, and even meets her own younger self, a little girl she can barely remember. Jeanie doesn’t recognize Faye as her daughter, of course, even though there is something eerily familiar about her…

As the two women become close friends, they share many secrets—but Faye is terrified of revealing the truth about her identity. Will it prevent her from returning to her own time and her beloved husband and daughters? What if she’s doomed to remain in the past forever? Faye knows that eventually she will have to choose between those she loves in the past and those she loves in the here and now, and that knowledge presents her with an impossible choice.

The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh • Molly Greeley • William Morrow • 368 pages • 5 janvier

As a fussy baby, Anne de Bourgh’s doctor prescribed laudanum to quiet her, and now the young woman must take the opium-heavy tincture every day. Growing up sheltered and confined, removed from sunshine and fresh air, the pale and overly slender Anne grew up with few companions except her cousins, including Fitzwilliam Darcy. Throughout their childhoods, it was understood that Darcy and Anne would marry and combine their vast estates of Pemberley and Rosings. But Darcy does not love Anne or want her.

After her father dies unexpectedly, leaving her his vast fortune, Anne has a moment of clarity: what if her life of fragility and illness isn’t truly real? What if she could free herself from the medicine that clouds her sharp mind and leaves her body weak and lethargic? Might there be a better life without the medicine she has been told she cannot live without?

In a frenzy of desperation, Anne discards her laudanum and flees to the London home of her cousin, Colonel John Fitzwilliam, who helps her through her painful recovery. Yet once she returns to health, new challenges await. Shy and utterly inexperienced, the wealthy heiress must forge a new identity for herself, learning to navigate a “season” in society and the complexities of love and passion. The once wan, passive Anne gives way to a braver woman with a keen edge—leading to a powerful reckoning with the domineering mother determined to control Anne’s fortune . . . and her life.

Last Garden in England • Julia Kelly • Gallery Books • 368 pages • 12 janvier

Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden.

1907: A talented artist with a growing reputation for her ambitious work, Venetia Smith has carved out a niche for herself as a garden designer to industrialists, solicitors, and bankers looking to show off their wealth with sumptuous country houses. When she is hired to design the gardens of Highbury House, she is determined to make them a triumph, but the gardens—and the people she meets—promise to change her life forever.

1944: When land girl Beth Pedley arrives at a farm on the outskirts of the village of Highbury, all she wants is to find a place she can call home. Cook Stella Adderton, on the other hand, is desperate to leave Highbury House to pursue her own dreams. And widow Diana Symonds, the mistress of the grand house, is anxiously trying to cling to her pre-war life now that her home has been requisitioned and transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. But when war threatens Highbury House’s treasured gardens, these three very different women are drawn together by a secret that will last for decades. 

The Divines • Ellie Eaton • William Morrow • 320 pages • 19 janvier

The girls of St John the Divine, an elite English boarding school, were notorious for flipping their hair, harassing teachers, chasing boys, and chain-smoking cigarettes. They were fiercely loyal, sharp-tongued, and cuttingly humorous in the way that only teenage girls can be. For Josephine, now in her thirties, the years at St John were a lifetime ago. She hasn’t spoken to another Divine in fifteen years, not since the day the school shuttered its doors in disgrace.

Yet now Josephine inexplicably finds herself returning to her old stomping grounds. The visit provokes blurry recollections of those doomed final weeks that rocked the community. Ruminating on the past, Josephine becomes obsessed with her teenage identity and the forgotten girls of her one-time orbit. With each memory that resurfaces, she circles closer to the violent secret at the heart of the school’s scandal. But the more Josephine recalls, the further her life unravels, derailing not just her marriage and career, but her entire sense of self. 

Our darkest night • Jennifer Robson • William Morrow • 384 pages • 5 janvier

It is the autumn of 1943, and life is becoming increasingly perilous for Italian Jews like the Mazin family. With Nazi Germany now occupying most of her beloved homeland, and the threat of imprisonment and deportation growing ever more certain, Antonina Mazin has but one hope to survive—to leave Venice and her beloved parents and hide in the countryside with a man she has only just met.

Nico Gerardi was studying for the priesthood until circumstances forced him to leave the seminary to run his family’s farm. A moral and just man, he could not stand by when the fascists and Nazis began taking innocent lives. Rather than risk a perilous escape across the mountains, Nina will pose as his new bride. And to keep her safe and protect secrets of his own, Nico and Nina must convince prying eyes they are happily married and in love.

But farm life is not easy for a cultured city girl who dreams of becoming a doctor like her father, and Nico’s provincial neighbors are wary of this soft and educated woman they do not know. Even worse, their distrust is shared by a local Nazi official with a vendetta against Nico. The more he learns of Nina, the more his suspicions grow—and with them his determination to exact revenge.

As Nina and Nico come to know each other, their feelings deepen, transforming their relationship into much more than a charade. Yet both fear that every passing day brings them closer to being torn apart . . .

Lore • Alexandra Bracken • Disney Hyperion • 480 pages • 5 janvier

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.