Sorties VO • Février 2021

The Paris Dressmaker • Kristy Cambron • Thomas Nelson • 400 pages • 16 février

Paris, 1939. Maison Chanel has closed, thrusting haute couture dressmaker Lila de Laurent out of the world of high fashion as Nazi soldiers invade the streets and the City of Lights slips into darkness. Lila’s life is now a series of rations, brutal restrictions, and carefully controlled propaganda while Paris is cut off from the rest of the world. Yet in hidden corners of the city, the faithful pledge to resist. Lila is drawn to La Resistance and is soon using her skills as a dressmaker to infiltrate the Nazi elite. She takes their measurements and designs masterpieces, all while collecting secrets in the glamorous Hôtel Ritz—the heart of the Nazis’ Parisian headquartersBut when dashing René Touliard suddenly reenters her world, Lila finds her heart tangled between determination to help save his Jewish family and bolstering the fight for liberation.

Paris, 1943. Sandrine Paquet’s job is to catalog the priceless works of art bound for the Führer’s Berlin, masterpieces stolen from prominent Jewish families. But behind closed doors, she secretly forages for information from the underground resistance. Beneath her compliant façade lies a woman bent on uncovering the fate of her missing husband . . . but at what cost? As Hitler’s regime crumbles, Sandrine is drawn in deeper when she uncrates an exquisite blush Chanel gown concealing a cryptic message that may reveal the fate of a dressmaker who vanished from within the fashion elite.

The Shadow War • Lindsay Smith • Philomel Books • 416 pages • 23 février

World War II is raging, and five teens are looking to make a mark. Daniel and Rebeka seek revenge against the Nazis who slaughtered their family; Simone is determined to fight back against the oppressors who ruined her life and corrupted her girlfriend; Phillip aims to prove that he’s better than his worst mistakes; and Liam is searching for a way to control the portal to the shadow world he’s uncovered, and the monsters that live within it–before the Nazi regime can do the same. When the five meet, and begrudgingly team up, in the forests of Germany, none of them knows what their future might hold.

As they race against time, war, and enemies from both this world and another, Liam, Daniel, Rebeka, Phillip, and Simone know that all they can count on is their own determination and will to survive. With their world turned upside down, and the shadow realm looming ominously large–and threateningly close–the course of history and the very fate of humanity rest in their hands. Still, the most important question remains: Will they be able to save it?

The Girl from Shadow Spring • Ellie Cypher • Simon Schuster • 320 pages • 9 février

Everyone in Shadow Springs knows that no one survives crossing the Flats. But the threat of a frozen death has never deterred the steady stream of treasure hunters searching for a legendary prize hidden somewhere in the vast expanse of ice. Jorie thinks they’re all fools, which makes scavenging their possessions easier. It’s how she and her sister, Brenna, survive.

Then Jorie scavenges off the wrong body. When the dead man’s enemy believes Jorie took something valuable from the body, he kidnaps Brenna as collateral. He tells Jorie that if she wants her sister back, she’ll have to trade her for the item he thinks she stole. But how can Jorie make a trade when she doesn’t even know what she’s looking for?

Her only source of information is Cody, the dead man’s nephew and a scholar from the South who’s never been hardened by the harsh conditions of the North. Though Jorie’s reluctant to bring a city boy out onto the Flats with her, she’ll do whatever it takes to save her sister. But anything can happen out on the ice, and soon Jorie and Cody find they need one another more than they ever imagined—and they’ll have to trust each other to survive threats beyond their darkest nightmares. 

The Witch’s Heart • Genevieve Gornichec • Ace Book • 368 pages • 9 février

Angrboda’s story begins where most witches’ tales end: with a burning. A punishment from Odin for refusing to provide him with knowledge of the future, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love.

Their union produces three unusual children, each with a secret destiny, who Angrboda is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger.

With help from the fierce huntress Skadi, with whom she shares a growing bond, Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family…or rise to remake their future. From the most ancient of tales this novel forges a story of love, loss, and hope for the modern age.

We are the ashes, we are the fires • Joy McCullough • Dutton Books • 400 pages • 9 février

Em Morales’s older sister was raped by another student after a frat party. A jury eventually found the rapist guilty on all counts–a remarkable verdict that Em felt more than a little responsible for, since she was her sister’s strongest advocate on social media during the trial. Her passion and outspokenness helped dissuade the DA from settling for a plea deal. Em’s family would have real justice. 

But the victory is lived. In a matter of minutes, justice vanishes as the judge turns the Morales family’s world upside down again by sentencing the rapist to no prison time. While her family is stunned, Em is literally sick with rage and guilt. To make matters worse, a news clip of her saying that the sentence “makes me want to use a fucking sword” goes viral.

From this low point, Em must find a new reason to go on and help her family heal, and she finds it in the unlikely form of the story of a 15th-century French noblewoman, Marguerite de Bressieux, who is legendary as an avenging knight for rape victims.

Dearest Josephine • Caroline George • Thomas Nelson • 384 pages • 2 février

2020: Chocolate and Earl Grey tea can’t fix Josie De Clare’s horrible year. She mourned the death of her father and suffered a teen-life crisis, which delayed her university plans. But when her father’s will reveals a family-owned property in Northern England, Josie leaves London to find clarity at the secluded manor house. While exploring the estate, she discovers two-hundred-year-old love letters written by an elusive novelist, all addressed to someone named Josephine. And then she discovers a novel in which it seems like she’s the heroine…

1820: Novelist Elias Roch loves a woman he can never be with. Born the bastard son to a nobleman and cast out from society, Elias seeks refuge in his mind with the quirky heroine who draws him into a fantasy world of scandal, betrayal, and unconditional love. Convinced she’s his soulmate, Elias writes letters to her, all of which divulge the tragedy and trials of his personal life.

As fiction blurs into reality, Josie and Elias must decide: How does one live if love can’t wait? Separated by two hundred years, they fight against time to find each other in a story of her, him, and the novel written by the man who loves her.

While Paris slept • Ruth Druart • Grand Central Publishing • 464 pages • 23 février

After. Santa Cruz, California, 1953. Jean-Luc and Charlotte Beauchamps have left their war-torn memories of Paris behind to live a quiet life in America with their son, Sam. They have a house in the suburbs, they’ve learned to speak English, and they have regular get-togethers with their outgoing American neighbors. Every minute in California erases a minute of their lives before — before the Germans invaded their French homeland and incited years of violence, hunger, and fear. But their taste of the American Dream shatters when officers from the U.N. Commission on War Crimes pull-up outside their home and bring Jean-Luc in for questioning.

Before. Paris, France, 1944. Germany has occupied France for four years. Jean-Luc works at the railway station at Bobigny, where thousands of Jews travel each day to be « resettled » in Germany. But Jean-Luc and other railway employees can’t ignore the rumors or what they see on the tracks: too many people are packed into the cars, and bodies are sometimes left to be disposed of after a train departs. Jean-Luc’s unease turns into full-blown panic when a young woman with bright green eyes bursts from the train one day alongside hundreds of screaming, terrified passengers, and pushes a warm, squirming bundle into his arms.

The upstairs house • Julia Fine • Harper • 304 pages • 23 février

Ravaged and sore from giving birth to her first child, Megan is mostly raising her newborn alone while her husband travels for work. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, she’s also wracked with guilt over her unfinished dissertation—a thesis on mid-century children’s literature.

Enter a new upstairs neighbor: the ghost of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown—author of the beloved classic Goodnight Moon—whose existence no one else will acknowledge. It seems Margaret has unfinished business with her former lover, the once-famous socialite and actress Michael Strange, and is determined to draw Megan into the fray. As Michael joins the haunting, Megan finds herself caught in the wake of a supernatural power struggle—and until she can find a way to quiet these spirits, she and her newborn daughter are in terrible danger.

The Invisible Woman • Erika Robuck • Berkley Books • 368 pages • 9 février

France, March 1944. Virginia Hall wasn’t like the other young society women back home in Baltimore–she never wanted the debutante ball or silk gloves. Instead, she traded a safe life for adventure in Europe, and when her beloved second home is thrust into the dark days of war, she leaps in headfirst.

Once she’s recruited as an Allied spy, subverting the Nazis becomes her calling. But even the most cunning agent can be bested, and in wartime trusting the wrong person can prove fatal. Virginia is haunted every day by the betrayal that ravaged her first operation, and will do everything in her power to avenge the brave people she lost.

While her future is anything but certain, this time more than ever Virginia knows that failure is not an option. Especially when she discovers what–and whom–she’s truly protecting.

The Family Ship • Sonja Yoerg • Lake Union Publishing • 412 pages • 23 février

Chesapeake Bay, 1980. Eighteen-year-old Verity Vergennes is the captain of the USS Nepenthe, and her seven younger siblings are her crew. The ship—an oyster boat transformed into a make-believe destroyer—is the heart of the Vergennes family, a place both to play and to learn responsibility. But Verity’s had it with being tied to the ship and secretly applies to a distant college. If only her parents could bear to let her go.

Maeve and Arthur Vergennes already suffered one loss when, five years earlier, their eldest son, Jude, stormed out and never returned. Now Maeve is pregnant again and something’s amiss. Verity yearns to follow her dreams, but how can she jump ship now? The problem, and perhaps the answer, lies with Jude.

When disaster strikes and the family unravels, Verity must rally her sibling crew to keep the Nepenthe and all it symbolizes afloat. Sailing away from home, she discovers, is never easy—not if you ever hope to find your way back.

A History of What come next • Sylvain Neuvel • Tor.com • 304 pages • 2 février

Always run, never fight. 
Preserve the knowledge.
Survive at all costs.
Take them to the stars.

Over 99 identical generations, Mia’s family has shaped human history to push them to the stars, making brutal, wrenching choices and sacrificing countless lives. Her turn comes at the dawn of the age of rocketry. Her mission: to lure Wernher Von Braun away from the Nazi party and into the American rocket program, and secure the future of the space race. 

But Mia’s family is not the only group pushing the levers of history: an even more ruthless enemy lurks behind the scenes.

A darkly satirical first contact thriller, as seen through the eyes of the women who make progress possible and the men who are determined to stop them…

The Girl from the Channel Islands • Jenny Lecoat • Graydon House • 304 pages • 2 février

The year is 1940, and the world is torn apart by war. In June of that year, Hitler’s army captures the Channel Islands—the only part of Great Britain occupied by German forces. Abandoned by Mr. Churchill, forgotten by the Allies and cut off from all help, the Islands’ situation is increasingly desperate.

Hedy Bercu is a young Jewish girl who fled Vienna for the island of Jersey two years earlier during the Anschluss, only to find herself trapped by the Nazis once more—this time with no escape. Her only hope is to make herself invaluable to the Germans by working as a translator, hiding in plain sight with the help of her friends and community—and a sympathetic German officer. But as the war intensifies, rations dwindle and neighbors are increasingly suspicious of one another. Hedy’s life is in greater danger every day. It will take a definitive, daring act to save her from certain deportation to the concentration camps.

Where madness lies • Sylvia True • Top Hat Books • 344 pages • 1 février

Germany, 1934. Rigmor, a young Jewish woman is a patient at Sonnenstein, a premier psychiatric institution known for their curative treatments. But with the tide of eugenics and the Nazis’ rise to power, Rigmor is swept up in a campaign to rid Germany of the mentally ill.

USA, 1984. Sabine, battling crippling panic and depression commits herself to McLean Hospital, but in doing so she has unwittingly agreed to give up her baby.

Linking these two generations of women is Inga, who did everything in her power to help her sister, Rigmor. Now with her granddaughter, Sabine, Inga is given a second chance to free someone she loves from oppressive forces, both within and without.

Of Silver and Shadow • Jennifer Gruenke • Flux • 480 pages • 16 février

Ren Kolins is a silver wielder—a dangerous thing to be in the kingdom of Erdis, where magic has been outlawed for a century. Ren is just trying to survive, sticking to a life of petty thievery, card games, and pit fighting to get by. But when a wealthy rebel leader discovers her secret, he offers her a fortune to join his revolution. The caveat: she won’t see a single coin until they overthrow the King.

Behind the castle walls, a brutal group of warriors known as the King’s Children is engaged in a competition: the first to find the rebel leader will be made King’s Fang, the right hand of the King of Erdis. And Adley Farre is hunting down the rebels one by one, torturing her way to Ren and the rebel leader, and the coveted King’s Fang title.

But time is running out for all of them, including the youngest Prince of Erdis, who finds himself pulled into the rebellion. Political tensions have reached a boiling point, and Ren and the rebels must take the throne before war breaks out.

Muse • Britanny Cavallaro • Katherine Tegen Books • 352 pages • 2 février

The year is 1893, and war is brewing in the First American Kingdom. But Claire Emerson has a bigger problem. While her father prepares to reveal the mighty weapon he’s created to showcase the might of their province, St. Cloud, in the World’s Fair, Claire is crafting a plan to escape.

Claire’s father is a sought-after inventor, but he believes his genius is a gift, granted to him by his daughter’s touch. He’s kept Claire under his control for years. As St. Cloud prepares for war, Claire plans to claim her life for herself, even as her best friend, Beatrix, tries to convince her to stay and help with the growing resistance movement that wants to see a woman on the throne. At any cost.

When her father’s weapon fails to fire on the fair’s opening day, Claire is taken captive by Governor Remy Duchamp, St. Cloud’s young, untried ruler. Remy believes that Claire’s touch bestows graces he’s never had, and with his governing power weakening and many political rivals planning his demise, Claire might be his only and best ally. But the last thing that Claire has ever wanted is to be someone else’s muse. Still, affections can change as quickly as the winds of war. And Claire has a choice to make: Will she quietly remake her world from the shadows—or bring it down in flames?

All girls • Emily Layden • Saint Martin’s Press • 320 pages • 16 février

A keenly perceptive coming-of-age novel, All Girls captures one year at a prestigious New England prep school, as nine young women navigate their ambitions, friendships, and fears against the backdrop of a scandal the administration wants silenced.

But as the months unfold, and the school’s efforts to control the ensuing crisis fall short, these extraordinary girls are forced to discover their voices, and their power. A tender and unflinching portrait of modern adolescence told through the shifting perspectives of an unforgettable cast of female students, All Girls explores what it means to grow up in a place that promises you the world––when the world still isn’t yours for the taking.

The Kitchen Front • Jennifer Ryan • Ballantine Books • 416 pages • 23 février

Two years into WW2, Britain is feeling her losses; the Nazis have won battles, the Blitz has destroyed cities, and U-boats have cut off the supply of food. In an effort to help housewives with food rationing, a BBC radio program called The Kitchen Front is putting on a cooking contest–and the grand prize is a job as the program’s first-ever female co-host. For four very different women, winning the contest presents a crucial chance to change their lives.

For a young widow, it’s a chance to pay off her husband’s debts and keep a roof over her children’s heads. For a kitchen maid, it’s a chance to leave servitude and find freedom. For the lady of the manor, it’s a chance to escape her wealthy husband’s increasingly hostile behavior. And for a trained chef, it’s a chance to challenge the men at the top of her profession.

These four women are giving the competition their all -even if that sometimes means bending the rules. But with so much at stake, will the contest that aims to bring the community together serve only to break it apart? 

The nature of fragile things • Susan Meissner • Berkley Books • 384 • 2 février

April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake rocks San Francisco just before daybreak, igniting a devouring inferno. Lives are lost, lives are shattered, but some rise from the ashes forever changed. 

Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant so desperate to get out of a New York tenement that she answers a mail-order bride ad and agrees to marry a man she knows nothing about. San Francisco widower Martin Hocking proves to be as aloof as he is mesmerizingly handsome. Sophie quickly develops deep affection for Kat, Martin’s silent five-year-old daughter, but Martin’s odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling that something about her newfound situation isn’t right.

Then one early-spring evening, a stranger at the door sets in motion a transforming chain of events. Sophie discovers hidden ties to two other women. The first, pretty and pregnant, is standing on her doorstep. The second is hundreds of miles away in the American Southwest, grieving the loss of everything she once loved.

The fates of these three women intertwine on the eve of the devastating earthquake, thrusting them onto a perilous journey that will test their resiliency and resolve and, ultimately, their belief that love can overcome fear.

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.

Margaret Atwood • Alias Grace (1996)

Alias Grace • Margaret Atwood • 1996 • Little, Brown Book Group • 545 pages

Alias Grace relate l’histoire de Grace Marks, jeune immigrée irlandaise au Canada devenue domestique. Accusée, avec James McDermott, du meurtre de ses employeurs, Thomas Kinnear et Nancy Montgomery en 1843, elle purge une peine de prison à vie quand le Dr Jordan se passionne pour son histoire et entreprend avec elle de retracer sa vie.

•••

Alias Grace, le livre autant que son adaptation par Netflix, faisait partie de mes priorités pour 2018. L’année d’avant, je découvrais Margaret Atwood à travers sa dystopie féministe. The Handmaid’s Tale ou La servante écarlate était un énorme coup de coeur et la série est encore mieux, chose que je pensais impossible. C’est donc tout naturellement que je me suis dirigée vers ce nouveau titre et son adaptation.

Pas de dystopie féministe pour cette fois, Alias Grace nous plonge dans l’histoire vraie de Grace Marks qui aurait tué, avec l’aide de James McDermott, ses employeurs. Encore une fois, c’est un portrait de femmes de l’auteur que l’auteur nous propose et pas de n’importe quelle femme. A vrai dire, je ne savais pas vraiment à quoi m’attendre en commençant le roman. Etait-ce une pure oeuvre de fiction retraçant cette histoire sordide, tout en profitant pour démontrer la condition de la femme à cette époque ? Ou une enquête romancée qui cherche à déterminer si elle était coupable ou innocente, un peu dans la lignée de ce que nous pouvons trouver pour Jack l’Eventreur, toute proportion gardée ?

Je penche personnellement pour la première solution, car, à aucun moment, je n’ai vu transparaître l’opinion de l’auteur à ce sujet. Coupable ou innocente, ce n’est pas le centre de son propos. C’est plutôt ce qu’essaie de déterminer le docteur Simon Jordan. J’y vois plutôt un moment pour Grace Marks de pouvoir s’exprimer, tout d’abord, librement, et, ensuite, en manipulant son auditeur, pas forcément en pensant mal, mais pour lui faire plaisir. Il est un des rares qui lui prêtait une oreille attentive, à être intéressée pour ce qu’elle a à dire et non pour le fait qu’elle était une meurtrière célèbre.

Le livre autant que la série le montrent parfaitement. Ils attendent tous les deux avec impatience ces moments où l’un parle enfin à quelqu’un qui l’écoute et respecte sa parole et l’autre écoute, pour satisfaire sa curiosité et avec un autre objectif en tête : le fait de prouver, dans un certain sens, l’innocence de la jeune fille. Toutefois, ce n’est pas ce que j’ai trouvé le plus intéressant dans cette relation entre Grace et Simon. Ce serait plutôt cette forme d’amour qui tient plus au fantasme et la subtile manipulation de la jeune fille envers le docteur qui lui donne ce qu’il attend. Il y a également beaucoup de sensualité qui se dégage, notamment dans la série avec des jeux de regards, des gestes qui semblent anodins et, parfois, lourds de sens. L’adaptation met aussi plus facilement en avant les fantasmes du docteur Jordan que le livre.

Cependant, ce que la série occulte un peu plus que le roman est tout ce qui touche à la sexualité, qui est beaucoup plus évoquée et qui est aussi une des raisons du départ du docteur Jordan. La question de la sexualité n’est pas centrale, mais elle tient une certaine place. Il y a une plus grande tension sexuelle avec le docteur et les différents personnages féminins. Dans la série, par exemple, la scène où Lydia, la fille du Gouverneur, prend la main de Simon Jordan lors d’une séance d’hypnose semble un peu incongrue dans la série dans la mesure où c’est un personnage qui a été peu vue dans l’adaptation. Elle est bien plus présente dans le roman et, en le lisant, le spectateur comprend mieux ce geste. Les relations entre toujours ce même docteur et sa logeuse ont aussi été raccourcies dans la série.

C’est aussi ce qui me fait voir cette dernière comme un résumé visuel et un peu détaillé du livre de Margaret Atwood. Peu d’autres éléments ont été apportés. Cette adaptation se concentre surtout sur les entretiens entre Grace et le docteur Jordan et les souvenirs de cette dernière. Il y a des éléments du livre qui sont parfois replacés, mais de manière incongrue. J’en ai quelques uns en tête et j’en ai déjà cité un peu plus haut. Le livre va plus loin. L’histoire du docteur a une importance quasiment égale et il y a des passages épistolaires entre sa mère et lui, avec un ami, des collègues. Il est aussi question de ses conquêtes, de ses propres souvenirs d’enfance avec les servantes de sa maison.

C’est ainsi qu’il réagit aux paroles de Grace et à ce qu’elle lui raconte. Cela démontre aussi qu’il est un homme de son temps, qui ne pense pas forcément aux femmes comme son égal, mais comme une servante, une épouse ou une prostituée. Nous avons vraiment ces trois figures dans la manière dont Simon Jordan perçoit les femmes. Elles ne peuvent pas être autres choses. Ce n’est clairement pas le personnage féministe de l’ouvrage, mais il met vraiment l’accent sur la condition et la vision de la femme durant le XIX siècle. Le pénitentiaire montre que la folie des femmes est surtout le fait des hommes. L’histoire de Grace démontre tout ce qu’elles peuvent endurer : le harcèlement des employeurs ainsi que le harcèlement sexuel, la condition de servante, la violence physique et verbale des hommes…

La série va ainsi à l’essentiel et ce n’est pas plus mal. Le livre m’a parfois donné du fil à retordre, non pas à cause du niveau de langue (c’est un anglais relativement facile), mais à cause de certaines longueurs. Comme dit plus haut, Margaret Atwood ne se concentre pas uniquement sur Grace, son histoire et les entretiens avec le docteur Jordan. Elle donne aussi un temps de parole à des personnages plus secondaires, notamment le fameux docteur. Cela casse parfois le rythme de l’histoire, car, même en tant que lectrice, j’étais suspendue aux lèvres de Grace, n’attendant que le moment où elle allait en arriver aux meurtres. Cependant, cela met trop de temps à arriver. Sur une petite brique de plus de cinq cent pages, il faut bien attendre de dépasser les trois cent pour que l’intrigue démarre réellement, à mon avis. Ces longueurs se font ressentir et, heureusement, l’adaptation faite par Netflix les occulte totalement… Et c’est tant mieux. Elle va à l’essentiel et se débarrasse du superflu. Pour autant, ce n’est pas une lecture qui m’a totalement déplu, ni même qui m’a donné envie d’explorer la bibliographie de Margaret Atwood. Son dernier roman me tente énormément. Je trouve qu’elle a tout de même un don pour raconter des histoires et pour mettre en scène des personnages féminins.

De la série, je retiens surtout l’incroyable interprétation de Sarah Gardon, qui tient le rôle principal. Ce n’est pas seulement parce qu’il s’agit du personnage central de la série, mais elle a une réelle présence à l’écran et elle écrase Edward Holcroft, qui joue Simon Jordan. Il est bon, mais l’actrice capte le regard. Elle joue parfaitement la candeur de Grace Marks, mais aussi la sensualité, la manipulation subtile que son personnage exerce et qui passe notamment par le regard et les gestes, les sourires ambigus. Dans le livre autant que dans son adaptation, nous ne savons pas toujours si elle est totalement honnête et innocente. J’ai parfois eu du mal à la croire. D’un autre côté, j’ai eu énormément de mal à la juger, car elle a des circonstances atténuantes. Indéniablement, c’est un personnage qui ne m’a pas laissé indifférente, que j’ai trouvé à la fois fascinante et dangereuse.

Alias Grace ne fut pas le coup de coeur que j’espérais pour ce début d’année, que ce soit pour le livre ou son adaptation, même si la balance penche plus pour la série. Cependant, je ne regrette pas cette découverte d’une histoire vraie dont j’ignorais tout. Je garde, pour l’instant, une petite préférence pour The Handmaid’s Tale. 

Rupi Kaur • The Sun and her flowers (2017)

The sun and her flowers • Rupi Kaur • 2017 • Andrews McMeel Publishing • 256 pages

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
fall
root
rise
in order to bloom

•••

2017 fut l’année où j’ai découvert la plume du jeune poétesse canadienne qui avait affolé la blogosphère avec son premier recueil, Milk & Honey. Je ne lisais jamais de poésie jusqu’à maintenant ou pas de mon plein gré, et, pourtant, Rupi Kaur a non seulement su me réconcilier avec ce genre littéraire mais également me toucher et me bouleverser. Ses poèmes avaient une grande force et ils abordaient des thèmes universels. Autant dire que quand le deuxième recueil est sorti, il était clair qu’il me le fallait, ne serait-ce que pour retrouver toutes les émotions que j’avais pu ressentir à la lecture de Milk & Honey. 

Cette fois-ci, ce n’est pas le lait et le miel qui guide le lecteur à travers l’oeuvre de Rupi Kaur mais le soleil et les fleurs. Ce sont des fils conducteurs qui sont parfaits pour ce recueil où elle évoque son viol, la dépression, sa mère… Elle les a déjà explorés dans son précédent recueil. Cependant, il n’y a pas de redites par rapport à Milk and Honey. Je n’ai pas eu l’impression de lire deux fois la même chose. Elle les aborde d’une manière différente. Les poèmes m’ont paru plus sombres voire un peu plus matures également. Ils me parlent toujours autant, me touchent et parfois même me bouleversent. De ce point de vue, rien n’a changé et c’est tant mieux. Toutefois, Kaur développe également de nouveaux sujets. Elle se confie beaucoup plus sur sa famille, notamment sa mère, le fait d’être une fille d’immigrés, l’importance de l’éducation, comment associer la culture de ses parents avec celle de ce nouveau pays… J’ai adoré ce chapitre de The Sun and her flowers. Je pense que c’est celui qui m’a le plus marqué, avec sa dépression. Comme avec son premier ouvrage, elle part de son expérience personnelle pour livrer des poèmes qui ont une portée universelle.

De plus, comme je l’ai dit un peu plus haut, j’ai beaucoup aimé la manière dont le soleil et les fleurs servent de fil conducteur. Ils rythment son passage de l’ombre à la lumière, les fleurs filant la métaphore de la renaissance, de la croissance qui sont au coeur de l’ouvrage. Sur un terrain fertile et propice, elle grandit doucement, réapprend à vivre. Il y a toujours les thèmes principaux qu’elle évoque dans les différents chapitres et d’autres sont plus à lire entre les lignes et ils expliquent aussi  la progression des poèmes et des chapitres. Il est vrai que je m’attendais aussi à ce qu’elle renouvelle quelque peu les différents sujets pour en aborder d’autres. Elle a certes introduit quelques nouveautés, que j’ai adorées, tout comme le reste d’ailleurs, mais je m’attendais à plus.

Cependant, je n’ai pas boudé mon plaisir d’avoir le nouveau Rupi Kaur entre les mains et il a été déjà lu et relu. Je suis de nouveau passée par toutes les émotions possibles et elle sait comment créer un lien d’empathie avec son lecteur, comment créer une intimité entre lui et elle, de faire en sorte qu’il ne se sente pas seul. Finalement, on sent qu’elle s’investit énormément dans ce qu’elle fait. Outre le fait qu’il y a une vraie charge émotionnelle, j’apprécie toujours autant les petites oeuvres d’art qui s’ajoutent à certains des poèmes. J’admire la simplicité du trait, ce simple trait donnant une petite oeuvre d’art d’une certaine finesse et dégageant aussi une certaine poésie. Clairement, l’image et le texte ne vont pas l’un sans l’autre. Ils fonctionnent ensemble pour former une oeuvre d’art totale.

J’apprécie le style particulier de l’auteur. Milk & Honey était écrit en faisant fi des règles de grammaire et de ponctuation. Elle récidive avec The Sun and her flowers, donnant au lecteur la possibilité de donner son propre rythme et son propre sens aux mots et aux phrases. Personnellement, je trouve que ça se lit tout seul et de manière relativement plaisante pour selon qu’elle brise les codes.

The Sun and her flowers reste un coup de coeur, au même titre que le premier recueil. Cependant, il est dans la même lignée. Il n’est pas meilleur ni pire, mais il a fait son effet et il reste efficace. J’en garderai un très bon souvenir et je suis déjà dans l’attente du prochain.

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Cinq livres à offrir à Noël

J’adore offrir des livres à Noël et j’essaie toujours d’en glisser un ou deux sous le sapin. Avec le choix qui s’offre dans les librairies, il n’est pas toujours de trouver le bon. Pour vous donner quelques idées, voici cinq ouvrages tirés de mes coups de coeur de l’année.

Milk & Honey – Rupi Kaur

Est-il encore nécessaire de le présenter ? Il a été récemment traduit en français. Rupi Kaur m’a fait découvrir la poésie contemporaine. Elle aborde dans ses textes de nombreux thèmes allant du fait d’être une femme aujourd’hui, son viol, sa relation avec son corps, les relations amoureuses… Ce n’est pas toujours une lecture facile, mais un grand nombre de textes peuvent nous toucher.

Hex – Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Encore un roman qui a été traduit il n’y a pas si longtemps et il serait vraiment dommage de passer à côté de ce livre. L’auteur néerlandais signe ici un des meilleurs romans d’horreur que j’ai pu lire depuis un moment. Impossible à lâcher et cauchemars assurés. C’est une histoire qui happe le lecteur dès les premières pages qui attend fébrilement que le drame explose.

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Le livre a été adapté cette année en série, remettant le livre, publié dans les années 1980 sur le devant de la scène. Une dystopie féministe… L’histoire n’a pas pris une ride depuis et reste d’actualité. Un classique à lire et relire sans modération.  La première saison est à recommander également.

S.P.Q.R. – Mary Beard

Mary Beard est une professeur d’histoire romaine à l’université de Cambridge. Elle a écrit plusieurs ouvrages sur l’Antiquité gréco-romaine, dont certains sont traduits en français, où elle démontre une volonté de vulgarisation historique, sans pour autant perdre en qualité. Elle ajoute sa touche personnelle avec de l’humour, des anecdotes, tout en donnant une belle part aux sources. Cette histoire de Rome, traduite en français, est très agréable à lire et est loin d’être ennuyante.

Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel

Des dieux auraient-ils foulé notre terre bien avant nous ? Ce premier tome reste une de mes plus belles surprises de l’année. Je ne lis quasiment jamais de science-fiction et je ne me suis jamais réellement intéressée à ce genre littéraire. Pourtant, Sleeping Giants m’a passionné d’un bout à l’autre avec une écriture très originale qui rend la lecture très dynamique. La mythologie est très bien développée, avec de vraies questions de fond.

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