Philippe Sands • The Ratline: Love, Lies, and Justice on the trail of a Nazi fugitive (2020)

The Ratline: Love, Lies, and Justice on the trail of a Nazi fugitive • Philippe Sands • 2020 • W&N • 411 pages

As Governor of Galicia, SS Brigadeführer Otto Freiherr von Wächter presided over an authority on whose territory hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles were killed, including the family of the author’s grandfather. By the time the war ended in May 1945, he was indicted for ‘mass murder’. Hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the Poles and the British, as well as groups of Jews, Wächter went on the run. He spent three years hiding in the Austrian Alps, assisted by his wife Charlotte, before making his way to Rome where he was helped by a Vatican bishop. He remained there for three months. While preparing to travel to Argentina on the ‘ratline’ he died unexpectedly, in July 1949, a few days after spending a weekend with an ‘old comrade’.

In The Ratline Philippe Sands offers a unique account of the daily life of a senior Nazi and fugitive, and of his wife. Drawing on a remarkable archive of family letters and diaries, he unveils a fascinating insight into life before and during the war, on the run, in Rome, and into the Cold War. Eventually the door is unlocked to a mystery that haunts Wächter’s youngest son, who continues to believe his father was a good man – what happened to Otto Wächter, and how did he die?

Philippe Sands est un auteur anglais d’essais historique que j’aime beaucoup. East West Street m’avait énormément marqué par le sujet et le style d’écriture. The Ratline a atterri tout de suite dans ma wish-list. J’ai mis un peu de temps avant de le découvrir, et je l’avoue qu’il ne m’a pas autant passionné que le premier.

Le livre évoque les filières d’évasion des hauts dignitaires nazis vers l’Amérique du Sud en prenant l’exemple d’Otto (von) Wächter, ancien gouverneur du district de Cracovie. C’est un sujet sur lequel je n’ai jamais lu et Philippe Sands est un excellent auteur pour commencer à aborder le sujet. J’apprécie sa manière d’écrire, qui est très personnelle. Il puise toujours son inspiration dans son histoire familiale. Les recherches historiques qu’il mène sont toujours extrêmement poussés, riches. Il a accès aux archives familiales des personnes dont il parle. Il interroge les principaux concernés pour confronter différents points de vue. C’est passionnant, même dans celui-ci.

Le livre fait référence à un documentaire, What our fathers did, datant de 2015. Je l’ai vu sur Netflix, mais il n’est malheureusement plus disponible. Il m’avait énormément marqué. Dans ce dernier, deux enfants d’anciens hauts gradés SS qui ont commis des meurtres de masse dans les territoires dont ils avaient la chargé évoquent leurs pères et la manière dont ils les perçoivent. Il est question de savoir s’ils arrivent à leur pardonner, à comprendre leurs actions… Il s’agit des fils de Hans Frank, Niklas Frank, et Horst Wächter, le fils d’Otto Wächter. Leurs positions sont diamétralement opposées.

Dans The Ratline, la première partie évoque ce documentaire, quand il a été filmé, ces deux hommes. Tout simplement, Philippe Sands les a rencontré, car il a participé au tournage. Le fait de connaître déjà en partie ce dont l’auteur parle a eu un impact sur la manière dont j’ai perçu ce roman. En effet, j’ai trouvé ces chapitres quelque peu ennuyants, et j’avais l’impression qu’il s’éloignait du sujet initial, celui des filières d’évasion. Il y a vient, mais un peu trop tardivement à mon goût. J’aurai aimé qu’il y vient plus rapidement au coeur du sujet.

Après, c’est un essai qui se laisse lire. Tout simplement, par le style d’écriture de l’auteur qui est intéressant et dynamique. Il mêle sa méthodologie de travail, la manière dont il mène ses recherches, avec des réflexions personnelles, de la documentation historique, ses relations avec les deux hommes avec ses hauts et ses bas… Il ne cache rien des difficultés qu’il rencontre, par exemple.

Ce n’est pas le coup de coeur que j’espérais, mais cela reste un excellent ouvrage avec un sujet passionnant et très bien documenté. Les propos ou réflexions de l’auteur sont toujours de qualité. Je les recommande, que ce soit The Ratline ou East West Street. Le livre a été traduit en français sous le titre La Filière.

Pour aller plus loin,

• Ma chronique sur East West Street : lien

• Une émission de France Culture sur cet essai historique : lien

Sorties VO • Mars 2021

It’s 2013, and much of the world still reels from the global economic collapse. Yet in the auction rooms of London, artworks are selling for record-breaking prices. Seeking a place in this gilded world is Martin, a junior specialist at a prestigious auction house. Martin spends his days catering to the whims of obscenely wealthy clients and his nights drinking in grubby pubs with his demoralized roommate. However, a chance meeting with Marina, an old university friend, presents Martin with a chance to change everything.

Pursuing distraction from her failing marriage and from a career she doesn’t quite believe in, Marina draws Martin into her circle and that of her husband, Oleg, an art-collecting oligarch. Shaken by the death of his mother and chafing against his diminishing influence in his homeland, Oleg appears primed to change his own life—and perhaps to relinquish his priceless art collection long coveted by London’s auction houses. Martin is determined to secure the sale and transform his career. But his ambitions are threatened by factors he hasn’t reckoned with: a dangerous attraction between himself and Marina, and half-baked political plans through which Oleg aims to redeem himself and Russia but which instead imperil the safety of the oligarch and all those around him.

Haitian-American Vodou priestess Mambo Reina Dumond runs a healing practice from her New Orleans home. Gifted with water magic since she was a child, Reina is devoted to the benevolent traditions of her ancestors.

After a ritual slaying in the French Quarter, police arrest a fellow vodouisant. Detective Roman Frost, Reina’s ex-boyfriend—a fierce nonbeliever—is eager to tie the crime, and half a dozen others, to the Vodou practitioners of New Orleans. Reina resolves to find the real killer and defend the Vodou practice and customs, but the motives behind the murder are deeper and darker than she imagines.

As Reina delves into the city’s shadows, she untangles more than just the truth behind a devious crime. It’s a conspiracy. As a killer wields dangerous magic to thwart Reina’s investigation, she must tap into the strength of her own power and faith to solve a mystery that threatens to destroy her entire way of life.

Lady Sophia Huntington Villiers is no stranger to intrigue, as her work with Alan Turing’s Bombe Machines at Bletchley Park during the war attests. Her wartime marriage of convenience to Simon Barre, the eighth earl of Camden, granted her the independence she craved and saved his estate. Now, as part of his covert team in postwar Vienna, she uses her charm to uncover a lethal double agent immersed in the world of relics—including the long lost death mask of Mozart. 

Simon is determined to gather any information he can to end the Cold War before it becomes as devastating as the war Britain has just won. He has been secretly in love with Sophie Villiers for years, and their work together in Vienna leads him to hope for genuine romance in their marriage. Until a mission in Prague drives Sophie to a decision that will brand her not only a traitor to her country but also to her husband.

With Sophie’s allegiance in question, Simon is torn between his duty to the crown and saving the woman who might have betrayed his cause and his heart.

In a small, provincial town behind the Iron Curtain, Sasha lives in a house full of secrets, one of which is her own dream of becoming an actress. When she leaves for Moscow to audition for drama school, she defies her mother and grandparents and abandons her first love, Andrei.

Before she leaves, Sasha discovers the hidden war journal of her uncle Kolya, an artist still missing in action years after the war has ended. His pages expose the official lies and the forbidden truth of Stalin’s brutality. Kolya’s revelations and his tragic love story guide Sasha through drama school and cement her determination to live a thousand lives onstage. After graduation, she begins acting in Leningrad, where Andrei, now a Communist Party apparatchik, becomes a censor of her work. As a past secret comes to light, Sasha’s ambitions converge with Andrei’s duties, and Sasha must decide if her dreams are truly worth the necessary sacrifice and if, as her grandmother likes to say, all will indeed be well.

Born into the House of Romanov to the all-powerful Peter the Great and his wife, Catherine, a former serf, beautiful Tsarevna Elizabeth is the envy of the Russian empire. She is insulated by luxury and spoiled by her father, who dreams for her to marry King Louis XV of France and rule in Versailles. But when a woodland creature gives her a Delphic prophecy, her life is turned upside down. Her volatile father suddenly dies, her only brother has been executed and her mother takes the throne of Russia.

As friends turn to foes in the dangerous atmosphere of the Court, the princess must fear for her freedom and her life. Fate deals her blow after blow, and even loving her becomes a crime that warrants cruel torture and capital punishment: Elizabeth matures from suffering victim to strong and savvy survivor. But only her true love and their burning passion finally help her become who she is. When the Imperial Crown is left to an infant Tsarevich, Elizabeth finds herself in mortal danger and must confront a terrible dilemma–seize the reins of power and harm an innocent child, or find herself following in the footsteps of her murdered brother.

Hidden behind a gorgeous, wildly decadent façade, the Russian Imperial Court is a viper’s den of intrigue and ambition. Only a woman possessed of boundless courage and cunning can prove herself worthy to sit on the throne of Peter the Great.

Each summer the girls of Deck Five come back to Marshall Naval School. They sail on jewel-blue waters; they march on green drill-fields; they earn sunburns and honors. They push until they break apart and heal again, stronger.

Each summer Margaret and Rose and Flor and Nisreen come back to the place where they are girls, safe away from the world: sisters bound by something more than blood.

But this summer everything has changed. Girls are missing and a boy is dead. It’s because of Margaret Moore, the boys say. It’s because of what happened that night in the storm.

Margaret’s friends vanish one by one, swallowed up into the lies she has told about what happened between her and a boy with the world at his feet. Can she unravel the secrets of this summer and last, or will she be pulled under by the place she once called home?

In 1999, an elite interdisciplinary team headed by Nobel laureate Andrew Danicek gathered in California to carry out a ground-breaking time-travel experiment. While the rest of the world remained unaware, Julius Caesar was successfully transported from the last day of his life to a specially-constructed covert facility. Four days of conversation with historians and Latin scholars were planned, followed by Caesar’s return to the moment from which he was extracted. But despite the team’s meticulous efforts to maintain secrecy and plan for all possible exigencies, a kidnap attempt plunges Caesar into peril. Fully aware that the future of civilization may hang in the balance, one team member must summon strength she didn’t know she possessed to return Caesar to the Ides of March.

After talking her way into a job with Dan Mansfield, the leading investigative reporter in Chicago, rising young journalist Jules Roth is given an unusual–and very secret–assignment. Dan needs her to locate a painting stolen by the Nazis more than 75 years earlier: legendary Expressionist artist Ernst Engel’s most famous work, Woman on Fire. World-renowned shoe designer Ellis Baum wants this portrait of a beautiful, mysterious woman for deeply personal reasons, and has enlisted Dan’s help to find it. But Jules doesn’t have much time; the famous designer is dying.

Meanwhile, in Europe, provocative and powerful Margaux de Laurent also searches for the painting. Heir to her art collector family’s millions, Margaux is a cunning gallerist who gets everything she wants. The only thing standing in her way is Jules. Yet the passionate and determined Jules has unexpected resources of her own, including Adam Baum, Ellis’s grandson. A recovering addict and brilliant artist in his own right, Adam was once in Margaux’s clutches. He knows how ruthless she is, and he’ll do anything to help Jules locate the painting before Margaux gets to it first.

Anna loves Girls’ Night with her friends. With the kids safely in bed, it’s a chance for the women to let loose, enjoy some wine, and just laugh. But after one lively evening, Anna doesn’t arrive for school drop-off the next morning—or the next, or the next.

Everyone, especially her husband and young son, are frantic with worry but none more so than Grace, her childhood best friend. Grace is certain that someone is hiding the truth about Anna’s unexplained disappearance. As rumors fly and accusations are whispered among neighbors, Grace decides to take matters into her own hands and find out what happened to Anna…or die trying.

By April 1916, the fervor that accompanied war’s outbreak has faded. In its place is a grim reality. Throughout Germany, essentials are rationed. Hope, too, is in short supply. Anna Zeller, whose fiancé, Bruno, is fighting on the western front, works as a nurse at an overcrowded hospital in Oldenburg, trying to comfort men broken in body and spirit. But during a visit from Dr. Stalling, the director of the Red Cross Ambulance Dogs Association, she witnesses a rare spark of optimism: as a German shepherd guides a battle-blinded soldier over a garden path, Dr. Stalling is inspired with an idea—to train dogs as companions for sightless veterans.

Anna convinces Dr. Stalling to let her work at his new guide dog training school. Some of the dogs that arrive are themselves veterans of war, including Nia, a German shepherd with trench-damaged paws. Anna brings the ailing Nia home and secretly tends and trains her, convinced she may yet be the perfect guide for the right soldier. In Max Benesch, a Jewish soldier blinded by chlorine gas at the front, Nia finds her person.

War has taken Max’s sight, his fiancée, and his hopes of being a composer. Yet despite all he’s given for his country, the tide of anti-Semitism at home is rising, and Max encounters it first-hand in one of the school’s trainers, who is determined to make Max fail. Still, through Anna’s prompting, he rediscovers his passion for music. But as Anna discovers more about the conflict’s escalating brutality—and Bruno’s role in it—she realizes how impossible it will be for any of them to escape the war unscathed

1940. In a world newly burning with war, and in spite of her American family’s wishes, Virginia decides to stay in occupied France with her French husband. She’s sure that if they keep their heads down they’ll make it through. But as the call to resist the enemy grows around her, Virginia must decide if she’s willing to risk everything to help those in need.

Nineteen-year-old Violette is a crack shot with an unquenchable spirit of adventure, and she’s desperate to fight the Nazis however she can. When her mother sends her to find an exiled soldier, Violette meets the man who will change her life. Then tragedy strikes, and Britain’s clandestine war organization—the Special Operations Executive—learns of Violette’s dual citizenship and adept firearm handling and starts to recruit her. But Violette is no stranger to loss and must decide whether the cost of defiance is too great a price to pay.

On Crow Island, people whisper, real magic lurks just below the surface. 

Neither real magic nor faux magic interests Annie Mason. Not after it stole her future. She’s only on the island to settle her late father’s estate and, hopefully, reconnect with her long-absent best friend, Beatrice, who fled their dreary lives for a more glamorous one. 

Yet Crow Island is brimming with temptation, and the biggest one may be her enigmatic new neighbor. 

Mysterious and alluring, Emmeline Delacroix is a figure shadowed by rumors of witchcraft. And when Annie witnesses a confrontation between Bea and Emmeline at one of the island’s extravagant parties, she is drawn into a glittering, haunted world. A world where the boundaries of wickedness are tested, and the cost of illicit magic might be death.

Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow.

Charm is a prisoner, and a survivor. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain.

Charm is a whore, and a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren’t real.

Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself.

She’s an artist whose portraits alter people’s real-life bodies, a talent she must hide from those who would kidnap, blackmail, and worse in order to control it. Guarding that secret is the only way to keep her younger sister safe now that their parents are gone. 

But one frigid night, the governor’s wife discovers the truth and threatens to expose Myra if she does not complete a special portrait that would resurrect the governor’s dead son. Desperate, Myra ventures to his legendary stone mansion. 

Once she arrives, however, it becomes clear the boy’s death was no accident. Someone dangerous lurks within these glittering halls. Someone harboring a disturbing obsession with portrait magic. 

Myra cannot do the painting until she knows what really happened, so she turns to the governor’s older son, a captivating redheaded poet. Together, they delve into the family’s most shadowed affairs, racing to uncover the truth before the secret Myra spent her life concealing makes her the killer’s next victim.

The winter hike is meant to bring their nature group together.
Emily, the sister who never lets her hearing loss hold her back.
Lauren, the sister who always feels a step behind.
Morna, who doesn’t get on with Lauren.
Ben, whose feelings for Emily border on obsession.
Dan, the quiet newcomer to the group.
Kai, who isn’t just on the hike to enjoy the wildlife.
And Alec, the one who knows all their secrets.

Dark Fell Barn is a “perfectly isolated” retreat, or so says its website when Jayne books a reservation for her friends. A quiet place, far removed from the rest of the world, is exactly what they need.

The women arrive for a girls’ night ahead of their husbands. There’s ex-Army Jayne, hardened and serious, but also damaged. Ruth, the driven doctor and new mother who is battling demons of her own. Young Emily, just wed and insecure, the newest addition of this tight-knit band. Missing this year is Edie, who was the glue holding them together until her husband died suddenly.

But what they hoped would be a relaxing break soon turns to horror. Upon arrival at Dark Fell Barn, the women find a devastating note claiming one of their husbands will be murdered. There are no phones, no cell service to check on their men. Friendships fracture as the situation spins wildly out of control. Betrayal can come in many forms.

The Alexandrian Society is a secret society of magical academicians, the best in the world. Their members are caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity. And those who earn a place among their number will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation – and here are the chosen few…

– Libby Rhodes and Nicolás Ferrer de Varona: inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds.
– Reina Mori: a naturalist who can speak the language of life itself.
– Parisa Kamali: a mind reader whose powers of seduction are unmatched.
– Tristan Caine: the son of a crime kingpin who can see the secrets of the universe.
– Callum Nova: an insanely rich pretty boy who could bring about the end of the world. He need only ask.

When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they must spend one year together to qualify for initiation. During this time, they will be permitted access to the Society’s archives and judged on their contributions to arcane areas of knowledge. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. If they can prove themselves to be the best, they will survive. Most of them. 

When Margaret Welty spots the legendary hala, the last living mythical creature, she knows the Halfmoon Hunt will soon follow. Whoever is able to kill the hala will earn fame and riches, and unlock an ancient magical secret. If Margaret wins the hunt, it may finally bring her mother home. While Margaret is the best sharpshooter in town, only teams of two can register, and she needs an alchemist.

Weston Winters isn’t an alchemist–yet. Fired from every apprenticeship he’s landed, his last chance hinges on Master Welty taking him in. But when Wes arrives at Welty Manor, he finds only Margaret and her bloodhound Trouble. Margaret begrudgingly allows him to stay, but on one condition: he must join the hunt with her.

Although they make an unlikely team, Wes is in awe of the girl who has endured alone on the outskirts of a town that doesn’t want her, in this creaking house of ghosts and sorrow. And even though Wes disrupts every aspect of her life, Margaret is drawn to him. He, too, knows what it’s like to be an outsider. As the hunt looms closer and tensions rise, Margaret and Wes uncover dark magic that could be the key to winning the hunt – if they survive that long. 

Norway, 1942. War rages, and operation Shetland bus is in full swing. Under cover of darkness, Rumi Orlstad and other locals smuggle British agents, fugitives and supplies across the North Sea to the relative safety of Scotland.

But when one mission goes awry, and Rumi’s husband is lost to the dangerous waters, she retreats from the clandestine group, vowing never to take to the seas again.

Meanwhile, her childhood friend Anya has been placed in Lebensborn, one of Himmler’s secret Aryan maternity camps. And when Rumi learns the fate of Anya’s child, she knows she has no choice but to face her fears and help Anya flee from Nazi grip… 

After her eighteenth birthday, Hilde, a former orphan in 1930s Berlin, goes out into the world to discover her place in it. But finding a job is hard, at least until she stumbles into Café Lila, a vibrant cabaret full of expressive customers—and Rosa, the club’s waitress and performer. As the café and all who work there embrace Hilde, and she embraces them in turn, she discovers her voice and her own blossoming feelings for Rosa. 

But Berlin is in turmoil. Between the elections, protests in the streets, and the beginning seeds of unrest in Café Lila itself, Hilde will have to decide what’s best for her future

In the snowbound city of Kiev, wry and bookish history student Mila Pavlichenko organizes her life around her library job and her young son–but Hitler’s invasion of Russia sends her on a different path. Given a rifle and sent to join the fight, Mila must forge herself from studious girl to deadly sniper–a lethal hunter of Nazis known as Lady Death. When news of her three hundredth kill makes her a national heroine, Mila finds herself torn from the bloody battlefields of the eastern front and sent to America on a goodwill tour.

Still reeling from war wounds and devastated by loss, Mila finds herself isolated and lonely in the glittering world of Washington, DC–until an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and an even more unexpected connection with a silent fellow sniper offer the possibility of happiness. But when an old enemy from Mila’s past joins forces with a deadly new foe lurking in the shadows, Lady Death finds herself battling her own demons and enemy bullets in the deadliest duel of her life.

Top 5 Wednesday • Couvertures rouges

Le thème de ce mercredi consiste à mettre en avant des livres aux couvertures rouges. J’ai ressorti dans mes dernières lectures des romans dont la dominante sur la couverture est le rouge. J’ai rajouté un petit avis express, car ils ne seront pas forcément chroniqués par la suite.

Les loups-garous d’Argentine • Jérémy Wulc • Pygmalion • Mars 2021 • 368 pages

Roman policier d’un auteur français, Les Loups-garous d’Argentine reste une bonne lecture, mais pas un coup de coeur. Beaucoup de révélations se devinent très rapidement et, finalement, le tout est sans surprise. C’est clairement le type de livre aussitôt lu, aussitôt oublié.

Les Meurtres de Molly Southbourne • Tade Thompson • Bélial • 2017 • 140 pages

Je parlerai plus de nouvelles que de roman, car il est extrêmement court. Je n’ai pas été totalement convaincue par ce premier tome, qui est catégorisé horreur. Il est inquiétant par moment, mais il est loin de m’avoir réellement fait peur. L’auteur effleure beaucoup de choses intéressantes, mais sans développer outre mesure. Je ne pense pas lire le deuxième tome.

Macbeth • William Shakespeare • Folio • XVI siècle • 176 pages

Macbeth n’a jamais été ma pièce de Shakespeare préférée avec Othello. J’ai beau la lire, la relire, j’en garde toujours un souvenir flou. L’année dernière, j’ai relu une partie des pièces de cet auteur et elle en faisait partie…

Fable, Namesake • Adrienne Young • Wednesday Books • 2021 • 360 pages

J’avais beaucoup aimé le premier tome qui mêlait parfaitement aventure, piraterie, trahison et j’étais impatiente de découvrir le deuxième tome. Il apporte son lot de révélations et de rebondissements. Il a peut-être un peu plus de longueurs que le premier, mais c’est une lecture toujours aussi agréable à faire avec des personnages attachants.

1793 • Niklas Natt och Dag • Pocket • 2019 • 528 pages

Une très bonne surprise pour ce policier historique qui m’a totalement embarqué dans le Stockholm de la fin du XVIII siècle. Le roman a été prenant, pas toujours facile, mais l’aspect historique est très bien documenté. Je lirai avec plaisir le deuxième tome, 1794.

Top 5 Wednesday • Five Stars Read

Cette semaine, le thème proposé est d’évoquer nos coups de coeur, des lectures auxquelles on a donné la plus haute note. J’avais très envie de proposer mes derniers coups de coeur.

Berlin, 1928. Les corps de quatre prostituées sont retrouvés massacrés dans le même quartier. Bernie Gunther, jeune flic idéaliste à la brigade des mœurs est invité à rejoindre le chef de la Kripo pour enquêter sur cette sinistre affaire.

Alors que ces meurtres laissent la population indifférente, le père de l’une des victimes, un chef de la pègre très influent, est prêt à tout pour se venger de l’assassin de sa fille.

Dès lors qu’une nouvelle vague de victimes, des vétérans de guerre handicapés, déferle sur la ville, Bernie est confronté au silence imposé par la voix montante du nazisme.

Une première enquête aux allures de course contre la montre dans un Berlin sous tension, à la veille de la Seconde Guerre mondiale.

Exiled to a far-flung island by the whims of the gods, Medusa has little company except the snakes that adorn her head instead of hair. But when a charmed, beautiful boy called Perseus arrives on the island, her lonely existence is disrupted with the force of a supernova, unleashing desire, love, betrayal and destiny itself.

Filled with glorious full-colour illustrations by award-winning Olivia Lomenech Gill, this astonishing retelling of Greek myth is perfect for readers of Circe and The Silence of the Girls. Illuminating the girl behind the legend, it brings alive Medusa for a new generation. 

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens. 

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge. 

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.

Voici un texte qui, par la controverse qu’il suscita dès sa parution chez les historiens, eut le mérite essentiel de contraindre ceux-ci à entreprendre des recherches nouvelles sur le génocide des Juifs par les nazis.

En effet, le reportage d’Hannah Arendt, envoyée spéciale du New Yorker au procès de Jérusalem, philosophe américaine d’origine juive allemande, auteur d’un ouvrage célèbre sur les origines du totalitarisme, fit scandale à New York et à Londres, en Allemagne comme en Israël.

Dans son procès du procès, l’auteur – qui ne fait siens ni tous les motifs de l’accusation ni tous les attendus du jugement – est entraîné d’abord à faire apparaître un nouvel Eichmann, d’autant plus inquiétant qu’il est plus «banal» ; puis à reconsidérer tout l’historique des conditions dans lesquelles furent exterminés des millions de Juifs. Et à mettre en cause les coopérations, voire les «complicités», que le lieutenant-colonel S.S. a trouvées dans toutes les couches de la population allemande, dans la plupart des pays occupés, et surtout jusqu’au sein des communautés juives et auprès des dirigeants de leurs organisations.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

Sorties VO • Février 2022

In New York City everybody needs a side hustle, and perfumer Vic Fowler has developed a delicate art that has proved to be very lucrative: creating bespoke scents that evoke immersive memories—memories that, for Vic’s clients, are worth killing for. But the city is expensive, and these days even artisanal murder doesn’t pay the bills. When Joseph Eisner, a former client with deep pockets, offers Vic an opportunity to expand the enterprise, the money is too good to turn down. But the job is too intricate—and too dangerous—to attempt alone.

Manipulating fellow struggling artists into acting as accomplices is easy. Like Vic, they too are on the verge of burnout and bankruptcy. But as relationships become more complicated, Vic’s careful plans start to unravel. Hounded by guilt and a tenacious private investigator, Vic grows increasingly desperate to complete Eisner’s commission. Is there anyone—friends, lovers, coconspirators—that Vic won’t sacrifice for art?

As the Nazis march toward Paris in 1940, American ballerina Lucie Girard buys her favorite English-language bookstore to allow the Jewish owners to escape. Lucie struggles to run Green Leaf Books due to oppressive German laws and harsh conditions, but she finds a way to aid the resistance by passing secret messages between the pages of her books.

Widower Paul Aubrey wants nothing more than to return to the States with his little girl, but the US Army convinces him to keep his factory running and obtain military information from his German customers. As the war rages on, Paul offers his own resistance by sabotaging his product and hiding British airmen in his factory. After they meet in the bookstore, Paul and Lucie are drawn to each other, but she rejects him when she discovers he sells to the Germans. And for Paul to win her trust would mean betraying his mission.

Her name is unimportant.

All you must know is that today she will become one of the four saints of Haven. The elders will mark her and place the red hood on her head. With her sisters, she will stand against the evil power that lives beneath the black mountain–an evil which has already killed nine of her village’s men.

She will tell no one of the white-eyed beasts that follow her. Or the faceless gray women tall as houses. Or the girls she saw kissing in the elm grove.

Today she will be a saint of Haven. She will rid her family of her mother’s shame at last and save her people from destruction. She is not afraid. Are you?

Chelsea Martin appears to be the perfect housewife: married to her high school sweetheart, the mother of two daughters, keeper of an immaculate home.

But Chelsea’s husband has turned their house into a prison; he has been abusing her for years, cutting off her independence, autonomy, and support. She has nowhere to turn, not even to her narcissistic mother, Patricia, who is more concerned with maintaining the appearance of an ideal family than she is with her daughter’s actual well-being. And Chelsea is worried that her daughters will be trapped just as she is–then a mysterious illness sweeps the nation.

Known as The Violence, this illness causes the infected to experience sudden, explosive bouts of animalistic rage and attack anyone in their path. But for Chelsea, the chaos and confusion the virus causes is an opportunity–and inspires a plan to liberate herself from her abuser. 

Russia, 1918: With the execution of Tsar Nicholas, the empire crumbles and Russia is on the edge of civil war—the poor are devouring the rich. Anna, a bourgeois girl, narrowly escaped the massacre of her entire family in Yekaterinburg. Desperate to get away from the Bolsheviks, she offers a peasant girl a diamond to take her as far south as possible—not realizing that the girl is a communist herself. With her brother in desperate need of a doctor, Evgenia accepts Anna’s offer and suddenly finds herself on the wrong side of the war.

Anna is being hunted by the Bolsheviks, and now—regardless of her loyalties—Evgenia is too.

An intriguing and twisty domestic suspense about loyalty and deceit in a tight-knit Texas community where parents are known to behave badly and people are not always who they appear to be.

Emily, a popular but bookish prep school senior, goes missing after a night out with friends. She was last seen leaving a party with Alex, a football player with a dubious reputation. But no one is talking.

Now three mothers, Catherine, Leslie and Morgan, friends turned frenemies, have their lives turned upside down as they are forced to look to their own children—and each other’s—for answers to questions they don’t want to ask.

Can you spot the difference?

Emma Caan is a fake.

She’s a forger, an artist who specializes in nineteenth-century paintings. But she isn’t a criminal; her copies are commissioned by museums and ultra-wealthy collectors protecting their investments. Emma’s more than mastered a Gauguin brushstroke and a van Gogh wheat field, but her work is sometimes a painful reminder of the artistic dreams she once chased for herself, when she was younger and before her family and her world fell apart.

When oligarch art collector Leonard Sobetsky unexpectedly appears with an invitation, Emma sees a way out—a new job, a new path for herself, and access to the kind of money she needs to support her unstable and recently widowed mother.

But every invitation incurs an obligation . . . and Emma isn’t prepared for what’s to come. As she’s pulled further into Leonard’s opulent scene, she will discover what’s lurking beneath the glitz and glamour. When she does, the past she’s worked hard to overcome will collide with the present, making her wonder how much of her carefully curated life is just as fake as her forgeries

During the reign of Louis XV, impoverished but lovely teenage girls from all over France are sent to a discreet villa in the town of Versailles. Overseen by the King’s favorite mistress, Madame de Pompadour, they will be trained as potential courtesans for the King. When the time is right, each girl is smuggled into the palace of Versailles, with its legendary Hall of Mirrors. There they meet a mysterious but splendidly dressed man who they’re told is merely a Polish count, a cousin of the Queen. Living an indulgent life of silk gowns, delicious meals, and soft beds, the students at this “school of mirrors” rarely ask questions, and when Louis tires of them, they are married off to minor aristocrats or allowed to retire to one of the more luxurious nunneries.

Beautiful and canny Veronique arrives at the school of mirrors and quickly becomes a favorite of the King. But when she discovers her lover’s true identity, she is whisked away, sent to give birth to a daughter in secret, and then to marry a wealthy Breton merchant. There is no return to the School of Mirrors.

This is also the story of the King’s daughter by Veronique—Marie-Louise. Well-provided for in a comfortable home, Marie-Louise has never known her mother, let alone her father. Capable and intelligent, she discovers a passion for healing and science, and becomes an accredited midwife, one of the few reputable careers for women like her. But eventually Veronique comes back into her daughter’s life, bringing with her the secret of Marie-Louise’s birth. But the new King—Louis XVI—is teetering on his throne and it’s a volatile time in France…and those with royal relatives must mind their step very carefully.

Once there was a young woman from a well-to-do New England family who never quite fit with the drawing rooms and parlors of her kin.

Called instead to the tangled woods and wild cliffs surrounding her family’s estate, Margaret Harlowe grew both stranger and more beautiful as she cultivated her uncanny power. Soon, whispers of “witch” dogged her footsteps, and Margaret’s power began to wind itself with the tendrils of something darker.

One hundred and fifty years later, Augusta Podos takes a dream job at Harlowe House, the historic home of a wealthy New England family that has been turned into a small museum in Tynemouth, Massachusetts. When Augusta stumbles across an oblique reference to a daughter of the Harlowes who has nearly been expunged from the historical record, the mystery is too intriguing to ignore.

But as she digs deeper, something sinister unfurls from its sleep, a dark power that binds one woman to the other across lines of blood and time. If Augusta can’t resist its allure, everything she knows and loves—including her very life—could be lost forever.

When Micah Wilkes was a senior in high school, her boyfriend was convicted of murdering her best friend, Emily. A decade later, Micah has finally moved on from the unforgivable betrayal and loss. Now the owner of a bustling coffee shop in her small hometown in Pennsylvania, she’s happily coupled up with another old high school friend, the two having bonded over their shared sorrow.

But when reminders of her past begin appearing at her work and home, Micah begins to doubt what she knows about Emily’s death. Questions raised on a true crime blog and in an online web sleuthing forum force her to reexamine her memories of that fateful night. She told the truth to the investigators on the case, but was there another explanation for Emily’s murder? A stranger in the woods. An obsessive former classmate. Or the internet’s favorite suspect: Joshua, Emily’s outcast younger brother who hasn’t been seen since his sister’s death.

As Micah delves deeper into the case, she feels her grip on reality loosening, her behavior growing more and more secretive and unhinged. As she races to piece together the truth about that night ten years ago, Micah grapples with how things could have gone so wrong and wonders whether she, too, might be next to disappear. 

Ray McMillian loves playing the violin more than anything, and nothing will stop him from pursuing his dream of becoming a professional musician. Not his mother, who thinks he should get a real job, not the fact that he can’t afford a high-caliber violin, not the racism inherent in the classical music world. And when he makes the startling discovery that his great-grandfather’s fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius, his star begins to rise. Then with the international Tchaikovsky Competition—the Olympics of classical music—fast approaching, his prized family heirloom is stolen. Ray is determined to get it back. But now his family and the descendants of the man who once enslaved Ray’s great-grandfather are each claiming that the violin belongs to them. With the odds stacked against him and the pressure mounting, will Ray ever see his beloved violin again? 

Romania, 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force.

Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s left with only two choices: betray everyone and everything he loves—or use his position to creatively undermine the most notoriously evil dictator in Eastern Europe.

Cristian risks everything to unmask the truth behind the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. He eagerly joins the revolution to fight for change when the time arrives. But what is the cost of freedom?

Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.

The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.

Top 5 Wednesday • Auteurs favoris

Cela fait quelques semaines que je n’ai pas proposé un Top 5 Wednesday. Le thème de cette semaine me tentait énormément. J’ai déjà évoqué par-ci, par-là mes auteurs préférés, ceux dont j’achète les livres yeux fermés, mais sans jamais en faire un article.

1. Philipp Kerr

J’ai connu cet auteur avec la Trilogie berlinoise il y a une dizaine d’années. Depuis, j’ai attendu avec impatience chacune de ses nouvelles parutions avec impatience. J’achetais dès leurs sorties poches les tomes de série Bernie Gunther. J’ai lu le dernier la semaine dernière, Metropolis, avec un énorme pincement au coeur en sachant qu’il n’y aura plus jamais d’autres tomes.

Mon préféré : Prague fatale

2. Christina Henry

Je suis une grande admiratrice de ses réécritures aux univers inquiétants et violents. J’achète sans me poser de questions ses nouveaux romans. En 2021, elle en a publié deux que j’ai adoré : Near the Bone et Horseman que j’ai lu au début du mois. Je suis impatiente de savoir ce qu’elle va proposer cette année.

Mon préféré : Lost Boy

3. Mandy Robotham

C’est une auteur que j’ai découvert récemment, il y a un an ou deux, mais dont j’ai tout de suite apprécié les romans. À Noël, j’ai eu son dernier livre, The girl behind the wall que je n’ai pas encore lu. En mars prochain, elle sort un autre ouvrage, The Resistance Girl que j’ai hâte de découvrir.

Mon préféré : The Berlin Girl

4. Ben Aaronovitch

J’adore sa série Peter Grant qui m’a accompagné pendant quelques années. Elle fait partie de mes guilty pleasures avec de l’action, de l’humour et des références à la pop culture anglaise. Le dernier tome se trouvait sous le sapin et il me tarde de connaître le dernier mot sur les aventures de mon apprenti sorcier préféré.

Mon préféré : Rivers of London

5. Éric Giacometti et Jacques Ravenne

J’aime tout particulièrement les thrillers ésotériques et ils font clairement partie de mes auteurs préférés dans ce domaine. J’achète chacune de leurs nouvelles parutions en poche, les attendant avec impatience.

Mon préféré : Soleil Noir, Les reliques du chaos

Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb • Last Christmas in Paris (2017)

Last Christmas in Paris • Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb • William Morrow • 2017 • 400 pages

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

Des ouvrages que j’ai pu présenter pour le challenge Il était neuf fois Noël, Last Christmas in Paris est celui que j’étais le plus impatiente de lire. Je l’ai découvert sur Pinterest et j’ai tout de suite craqué devant cette très belle couverture. Heureusement, le livre ne se limite pas qu’à cela.

Il y avait bien longtemps que je n’avais pas lu un roman épistolaire, genre littéraire que j’apprécie énormément. Le choix de rédiger uniquement par des lettres est judicieux pour plusieurs raisons. Il permet d’allier les événements ayant lieu sur le champ de bataille avec les lettres de Will et Tom, et ce qui se passe à l’arrière avec Evelyn et Alice. S’y ajoute aussi le personnage de John Hooper qui permet également d’avoir le point de vue d’un homme en âge de se battre, mais pour des raisons diverses restent à l’arrière. Cela permet d’aborder la manière dont ils étaient perçus. Les autrices nous offrent une belle galerie de personnages qui illustrent plutôt bien ce que pouvait être la société anglaise durant la Première Guerre mondiale. Il est dommage que tous les personnages que l’on croise soit tous issus de l’aristocratie.

Ces lettres sont également pleines d’émotions et de non-dits qui m’ont énormément plu. Le début peut être long à se mettre en place. La première année du conflit met vraiment les différents éléments en place : les relations entre les différents personnages, la manière dont le conflit est perçu dans les premiers mois, la naïveté et l’enthousiasme qui fait ensuite place à bien d’autres sentiments comme l’horreur, la mélancolie, les troubles traumatiques… En avançant dans les années, le roman devient plus sombre, passionnant et impossible à lâcher. Les relations changent et les personnages aussi, la vie à l’arrière et au front se fait plus difficile avec notamment la perte de certains personnages. Il y a quelques passages qui m’ont tiré des larmes.

Je l’avoue aussi, je me suis énormément attachée aux différents personnages, notamment Evie et Tom. Leur amitié, leur échange de lettres ainsi que leurs caractères en font des personnes plus que sympathiques et dont le destin m’a tenu en haleine du début à la fin. En tant que lectrice, j’ai espéré que Thomas s’en sorte, qu’ils se rendent compte qu’il y a plus que de l’amitié entre eux… J’ai admiré leurs forces et leurs courages, leurs droitures aussi. Alice apporte parfois une touche rafraîchissante par ses lettres et son humour. Elle a une personnalité pétillante qui change également au fur et à mesure des années.

J’ai apprécié la construction du roman. Il est divisé en plusieurs parties correspondant à un an de conflit, de 1914 à 1918. Chacune commence par une petite citation et elle se termine par un court chapitre qui n’est pas une lettre, mais un petit saut dans le temps, puisque les autrices nous transportent en 1968. J’avais peur que cela ne donne un peu trop d’indices pour la suite de l’intrigue, mais cela n’a pas été le cas. Au contraire, ces quelques pages ont plutôt attisé ma curiosité et donné envie de continuer le roman.

Last Christmas in Paris est un coup de coeur qui m’a emporté dans un tourbillon d’émotions. C’était très bien écrit et passionnant. Clairement un des meilleurs ouvrages que j’ai pu lire ce mois-ci dont le bilan est plutôt mitigé.

Anne Perry • Le curieux Noël de Mrs Ellison

Le curieux Noël de Mrs Ellison • Anne Perry • 2017 • 10/18 • 116 pages

Quand Mariah Ellison reçoit en guise de cadeau de Noël un boulet de canon sur le pas de sa porte, elle se rappelle un meurtre, survenu il y a vingt ans, qui a brisé l’une de ses plus fortes amitiés. Comprenant que cette vieille affaire refait surface, elle se rend dans le Surrey dans l’espoir de se réconcilier avec son amie et de résoudre enfin le crime qui les a séparées.

Je n’avais jamais lu un roman d’Anne Perry jusqu’à maintenant. Pourtant, ses romans m’ont toujours intéressée, étant amatrice de romans policiers historiques. Cette première incursion dans la bibliographie de cette autrice est plutôt en demi-teinte. Il y a des aspects que j’ai bien aimé et d’autres sur lesquels je suis plus déçue.

La première chose qui m’a dérangé concerne la manière dont l’intrigue est menée. Il m’a manqué des rebondissements et des révélations de dernière minute, ou des obstacles à surmonter. L’histoire est quelque peu plate et linéaire. Elle manque cruellement de suspens à mon goût. Il y a un petit retournement de situation à la fin, mais il ne fait pas vraiment l’objet d’une grande surprise. Il ne m’a pas fait l’effet d’une bombe et c’est dommage. L’intrigue est assez convenue et sans surprise.

Par ailleurs, la fin se devine malheureusement très rapidement. Une fois que l’intrigue a bien démarré, le lecteur se doute de la manière dont toute cette enquête va se terminer. Il n’y a pas de surprise non plus de ce côté-là. J’aurai espéré que le coupable tenterait de mettre plus de bâton dans les roues de Mariah Ellison et de ses amis. Il revient dans ce village pour défendre sa réputation, mais il ne le fait pas de manière très convaincante.

Malgré tout, l’histoire est prenante et elle se laisse lire d’un bout à l’autre. Le fait qu’elle soit relativement courte n’est pas forcément à son avantage, car elle aurait mérité d’être plus amplement développé. Par certains aspects, elle m’a aussi intrigué. Je voulais savoir comment le personnage principal va bien pouvoir aider ses amis pour faire entendre la vérité, la manière dont elle va mener l’enquête. Mariah Ellison parle aux gens, les amène à se confesser à elle et à avouer leurs secrets.

La thématique qui est évoquée n’est pas la plus facile. Anne Perry aborde les violences domestiques faites aux femmes et les prédateurs sexuels. Elle fait preuve d’une certaine pudeur et retenu quand elle parle de ce que Mariah Ellison a vécu auprès de son mari. Le lecteur comprend pourquoi cette histoire qui s’est déroulée quelques années en arrière la bouleverse autant.

Cette lecture s’est certes révélée en demi-teinte, mais je ne suis pas assez déçue pour retenter l’expérience. J’ai Dans l’oeil du cyclone dans ma wish-list et je compte bien le découvrir. Le curieux Noël de Mrs Ellison est un roman relativement sympathique. J’aurais aimé que l’ambiance de Noël soit un brin plus présente.

Nancy Mitford • Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding • Nancy Mitford • 1932 • 10/18 • 264 pages

Un Noël à la campagne dans le Gloucestershire. La perspective est séduisante pour un groupe de jeunes mondains, un peu las de la routine londonienne, qui décident de séjourner à proximité du domaine de Lady Bobbin et de ses enfants.

Multipliant péripéties invraisemblables et dialogues mordants, Nancy Mitford dresse un portrait décalé de la société anglaise dans les années 1930.

Cela faisait un petit moment que ce livre traînait dans ma wish-list, mais j’attendais la période des fêtes de fin d’année pour enfin le découvrir. J’ai bien aimé ce roman, mais il n’était pas tout à fait ce à quoi je m’attendais, pour être honnête. J’avais à l’esprit un cosy mistery à l’anglaise. Or, Christmas Pudding se révèle plutôt être une comédie satirique.

Nancy Mitford dresse le portrait de l’aristocratie anglaise durant la période de l’entre-deux-guerres. Elle n’y va pas par le dos de la cuillère pour les décrire et offrir au lecteur une satire sociale. Elle ne cache rien des conversations pseudo-philosophiques et profondes d’une jeunesse désoeuvrée, de ce que les Anglais appellent le small talk. Ils passent également une bonne partie de leur temps à commenter et observer la vie des autres. Au niveau des dialogues, le livre peut paraître quelque peu vide. Cependant, j’ai trouvé que c’était aussi à l’image de cette noblesse.

Heureusement, la plume de l’autrice sauve les dialogues un peu creux du roman. Elle est pleine d’ironie. Les réflexions sont piquantes et apportent de l’humour qui est typiquement anglais et que j’ai vraiment aimé. C’est vraiment le point qui a énormément joué sur mon appréciation globale de ce livre. Ces petites flèches lancées à tout-va m’ont bien fait sourire et sont savoureuses.

Les personnages sont plutôt des archétypes. Leurs psychologies, leurs caractères sont très peu développés et nuancés. J’ai vraiment eu du mal à apprécier la galerie de personnages que l’auteur propose. Aucun lien ne se crée avec eux. Il n’y a pas que les dialogues qui sont creux et sans intérêt. Je crois que la palme d’or revient au personnage principal, Paul Fotheringay. Il est vaniteux, se pose comme un artiste torturé et incompris, mais également paresseux. Il n’a pas pris conscience de sa propre médiocrité. J’avais très envie de le gifler à tout bout de champ, et il n’était pas le seul.

Le roman s’appelle Christmas Pudding, mais je cherche encore l’ambiance de Noël. Le livre se déroule durant les fêtes de fin d’année. L’intrigue aurait pu se dérouler à une toute autre saison que l’ambiance et les propos ne changeraient pas. Au regard du titre, je m’attendais à retrouver une atmosphère beaucoup plus portée sur Noël. Petite déception de ce point de vue.

Pourtant, j’ai dit au début de cette chronique que j’avais apprécie ce roman, et bizarrement, c’est le cas. Il y a quelque chose dans ce livre qui m’a tout de suite happé. Je pense qu’il doit y avoir le côté satire de l’aristocratie anglaise, l’humour et les petites piques typiquement anglaises. Cela a un certain charme. Ce n’est pas un coup de coeur, mais une lecture divertissante et courte.

Présentation de ma pile à lire pour Il était neuf fois Noël

Cette année, je participe au challenge Il était neuf fois Noël. Le chalet ouvre ses portes le 29 novembre, pour ne les refermer que le 2 janvier. La nouveauté de cette année, ce sont les semaines thématiques.

Du 29 novembre au 5 décembre : Les Noëls du monde

Du 6 au 12 décembre : Si Noël m’était conté

Du 13 au 19 décembre : Noëls mystérieux

Du 20 au 26 décembre : La magie de Noël

Du 27 décembre au 2 janvier : Noëls blancs

Les organisatrices proposent également tout un programme, qui peut être trouvé ici, par exemple. Aujourd’hui, je présente donc ma pile à lire pour le challenge. Ce sont des livres que j’espère pouvoir lire et présenter durant le mois.


Pauvre Andy Warner. L’ex-star contestataire des morts-vivants a passé une année entière soumis à des tests expérimentaux dans un laboratoire de recherches sur les zombies dans l’Oregon. Heureusement, un miracle se produit : à quelques jours de Noël, il parvient à s’échapper et fausse compagnie à ses poursuivants en enfilant un costume de Santa Claus. Le déguisement parfait… À deux réserves près : des collègues de décomposition le reconnaissent et exigent de lui qu’il soit leur chef ; et une adorable fillette solitaire le suit partout, convaincue qu’il est vraiment le père Noël… Une comédie horriblement délicieuse à lire sous le sapin.

There’s nothing Marietta Stelle loves more than ballet, but after Christmas, her dreams will be over as she is obligated to take her place in Edwardian society. While she is chafing against such suffocating traditions, a mysterious man purchases the neighbouring townhouse. Dr Drosselmeier is a charming but calculating figure who wins over the rest of the Stelle family with his enchanting toys and wondrous mechanisms. When Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate set for Marietta’s final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. On the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, she is transported to a snowy forest, where she encounters danger at every turn.

Un Noël à la campagne dans le Gloucestershire. La perspective est séduisante pour un groupe de jeunes mondains, un peu las de la routine londonienne, qui décident de séjourner à proximité du domaine de Lady Bobbin et de ses enfants.

Multipliant péripéties invraisemblables et dialogues mordants, Nancy Mitford dresse un portrait décalé de la société anglaise dans les années 1930.

Habituellement, Basile, neuf ans, rentre de l’école avec son père ou un autre parent d’élève. Mais ce jour-là est un peu particulier… Ce jour-là, la maîtresse a reçu un coup de téléphone qui l’a forcée à abandonner sa classe plus tôt que prévu. Ce jour-là, le petit garçon a décidé que rentrer à pied pour aller voir les décorations de Noël était une bonne idée. Ce jour-là… c’est le jour où Basile va faire la connaissance d’un jeune homme d’apparence sympathique, et accepter sans le savoir de conduire un agresseur à sa victime…

Aux Galeries Hartmann, les Féeries sont le plus gros événement de l’année. Alors quand sept jours avant leur lancement, le nouveau directeur exige que la décoration de Noël soit intégralement refaite, le sang d’Agathe ne fait qu’un tour : personne ne touchera à son travail, et surtout pas cet arriviste arrogant. Mais le grand magasin est désormais sous la responsabilité d’Alexandre Hartmann, et aussi talentueuse que soit Agathe Murano, c’est avec lui qu’elle devra traiter. Lui et personne d’autre. Ces deux-là auraient préféré ne jamais se rencontrer, mais puisqu’un père Noël et son chat magique viennent d’être embauchés pour exaucer les souhaits, pourquoi ne pas en profiter pour s’amuser ? Mais aux dépens de l’un comme de l’autre, bien sûr…

Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she’s hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach.

But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah’s not magical. It’s not merry. It’s not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel’s determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy—Jacob Greenberg.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently… Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

Lors d’une terrible nuit d’hiver, la petite ville de Coventry fut frappée par une tempête de neige d’une rare violence, qui fit de nombreuses victimes et disparus, laissant une marque indélébile sur l’esprit des survivants. Douze ans après, alors que la vie a repris son cours à Coventry, se produit une série d’événements étranges : les disparus de cette fameuse nuit maudite semblent être de retour… et une nouvelle tempête s’annonce, cette fois-ci prête à tout dévaster sur son passage.

Jack, dix-sept ans, part à la conquête du Grand Nord pour devenir chercheur d’or. Plus intéressé par l’aventure que par la richesse, il espère se mesurer aux rigueurs du climat et affronter la nature sauvage. Mais Jack est loin de s’attendre aux obstacles qui se dresseront sur sa route: des bandits sans scrupules, prêts à tout pour faire fortune, et surtout des créatures redoutables qui incarnent ce que l’homme abrite de plus sombre en son coeur. Son animal-totem, le loup, l’aidera à traverser les épreuves… pourvu que Jack reste en vie.

Quand Mariah Ellison reçoit en guise de cadeau de Noël un boulet de canon sur le pas de sa porte, elle se rappelle un meurtre, survenu il y a vingt ans, qui a brisé l’une de ses plus fortes amitiés. Comprenant que cette vieille affaire refait surface, elle se rend dans le Surrey dans l’espoir de se réconcilier avec son amie et de résoudre enfin le crime qui les a séparées.