Sorties VO • Septembre 2021

Seven visitations of Sydney Burgess • Andy Marino • RedHook • 28 septembre • 304 pages

Sydney’s spent years burying her past and building a better life for herself and her eleven-year old son. A respectable marketing job, a house with reclaimed and sustainable furniture, and a boyfriend who loves her son and accepts her, flaws and all. But when she opens her front door, and a masked intruder knocks her briefly unconscious, everything begins to unravel. 

She wakes in the hospital and tells a harrowing story of escape. Of dashing out a broken window. Of running into her neighbors’ yard and calling the police. What the cops tell her is that she can no longer trust her memories. Because they say that not only is the intruder lying dead in her guest room, but he’s been murdered in a way that seems intimately personal. 

When she returns home, Sydney can’t shake the deep darkness that hides in every corner. There’s an unnatural whisper in her ear, urging her back to old addictions. And as her memories slowly return, she begins to fear that her new life was never built on solid ground-and that the secrets buried beneath will change everything. 

These toxic things • Rachel Howzell Hall • Thomas & Mercer • 1 septembre • 415 pages

Mickie Lambert creates “digital scrapbooks” for clients, ensuring that precious souvenirs aren’t forgotten or lost. When her latest client, Nadia Denham, a curio shop owner, dies from an apparent suicide, Mickie honors the old woman’s last wish and begins curating her peculiar objets d’art. A music box, a hair clip, a key chain―twelve mementos in all that must have meant so much to Nadia, who collected them on her flea market scavenges across the country.

But these tokens mean a lot to someone else, too. Mickie has been receiving threatening messages to leave Nadia’s past alone.

It’s becoming a mystery Mickie is driven to solve. Who once owned these odd treasures? How did Nadia really come to possess them? Discovering the truth means crossing paths with a long-dormant serial killer and navigating the secrets of a sinister past. One that might, Mickie fears, be inescapably entwined with her own.

The slow march of light • Heather B. Moore • Shadow Mountain • 7 septembre • 368 pages

In the summer of 1961, a wall of barbed wire goes up quickly in the dead of night, officially dividing Berlin. Aware of the many whose families have been divided, Luisa joins a secret spy network, risking her life to help East Germans escape across the Berlin Wall and into the West.

Bob Inama, a soldier in the US Army, is stationed in West Germany. He’s glad to be fluent in German, especially after meeting Luisa Voigt at a church social. As they spend time together, they form a close connection. But when Bob receives classified orders to leave for undercover work immediately, he doesn’t get the chance to say goodbye.

With a fake identity, Bob’s special assignment is to be a spy embedded in East Germany, identifying possible targets for the US military. But Soviet and East German spies, the secret police, and Stasi informants are everywhere, and the danger of being caught and sent to a brutal East German prison lurks on every corner.

The Collector’s Daughter • Gill Paul • William Morrow • 7 septembre • 384 pages

Lady Evelyn Herbert was the daughter of the Earl of Carnarvon, brought up in stunning Highclere Castle. Popular and pretty, she seemed destined for a prestigious marriage, but she had other ideas. Instead, she left behind the world of society balls and chaperones to travel to the Egyptian desert, where she hoped to become a lady archaeologist, working alongside her father and Howard Carter in the hunt for an undisturbed tomb.

In November 1922, their dreams came true when they discovered the burial place of Tutankhamun, packed full of gold and unimaginable riches, and she was the first person to crawl inside for three thousand years. She called it the “greatest moment” of her life—but soon afterwards everything changed, with a string of tragedies that left her world a darker, sadder place.

Newspapers claimed it was “the curse of Tutankhamun,” but Howard Carter said no rational person would entertain such nonsense. Yet fifty years later, when an Egyptian academic came asking questions about what really happened in the tomb, it unleashed a new chain of events that seemed to threaten the happiness Eve had finally found.

The Matzah Ball • Jean Meltzer • MIRA • 28 septembre • 416 pages

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.

Though Rachel and Jacob haven’t seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah—and Jacob—in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze.

The Corpse Queen • Heather Herrman • GP Putnam • 14 septembre • 320 pages

Soon after her best friend Kitty mysteriously dies, orphaned seventeen-year-old Molly Green is sent away to live with her « aunt. » With no relations that she knows of, Molly assumes she has been sold as free domestic labor for the price of an extra donation in the church orphanage’s coffers. Such a thing is not unheard of. There are only so many options for an unmarried girl in 1850s Philadelphia. Only, when Molly arrives, she discovers her aunt is very much real, exceedingly wealthy, and with secrets of her own. Secrets and wealth she intends to share–for a price.

Molly’s estranged aunt Ava, has built her empire by robbing graves and selling the corpses to medical students who need bodies to practice surgical procedures. And she wants Molly to help her procure the corpses. As Molly learns her aunt’s trade in the dead of night and explores the mansion by day, she is both horrified and deeply intrigued by the anatomy lessons held at the old church on her aunt’s property. Enigmatic Doctor LaSalle’s lessons are a heady mixture of knowledge and power and Molly has never wanted anything more than to join his male-only group of students. But the cost of inclusion is steep and with a murderer loose in the city, the pursuit of power and opportunity becomes a deadly dance. 

The Magicians • Colm Toibin • Scribner • 7 septembre • 512 pages

Colm Tóibín’s new novel opens in a provincial German city at the turn of the twentieth century, where the boy, Thomas Mann, grows up with a conservative father, bound by propriety, and a Brazilian mother, alluring and unpredictable. Young Mann hides his artistic aspirations from his father and his homosexual desires from everyone. He is infatuated with one of the richest, most cultured Jewish families in Munich, and marries the daughter Katia. They have six children. On a holiday in Italy, he longs for a boy he sees on a beach and writes the story Death in Venice. He is the most successful novelist of his time, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, a public man whose private life remains secret. He is expected to lead the condemnation of Hitler, whom he underestimates. His oldest daughter and son, leaders of Bohemianism and of the anti-Nazi movement, share lovers. He flees Germany for Switzerland, France and, ultimately, America, living first in Princeton and then in Los Angeles.

The Girl behind the wall • Mandy Robotham • Avon • 7 septembre • 416 pages

A city divided. When the Berlin Wall goes up, Karin is on the wrong side of the city. Overnight, she’s trapped under Soviet rule in unforgiving East Berlin and separated from her twin sister, Jutta.

Two sisters torn apart. Karin and Jutta lead parallel lives for years, cut off by the Wall. But Karin finds one reason to keep going: Otto, the man who gives her hope, even amidst the brutal East German regime.

One impossible choice… When Jutta finds a hidden way through the wall, the twins are reunited. But the Stasi have eyes everywhere, and soon Karin is faced with a terrible decision: to flee to the West and be with her sister, or sacrifice it all to follow her heart?

The last legacy • Adrienne Young • Wednesday Books • 7 septembre • 336 pages

When a letter from her uncle Henrik arrives on Bryn Roth’s eighteenth birthday, summoning her back to Bastian, Bryn is eager to prove herself and finally take her place in her long-lost family.

Henrik has plans for Bryn, but she must win everyone’s trust if she wants to hold any power in the delicate architecture of the family. It doesn’t take long for her to see that the Roths are entangled in shadows. Despite their growing influence in upscale Bastian, their hands are still in the kind of dirty business that got Bryn’s parents killed years ago. With a forbidden romance to contend with and dangerous work ahead, the cost of being accepted into the Roths may be more than Bryn can pay. 

All these bodies • Kendare Blake • Quill Tree Books • 16 septembre • 304 pages

Summer 1958—a string of murders plagues the Midwest. The victims are found in their cars and in their homes—even in their beds—their bodies drained, but with no blood anywhere. 

September 19- the Carlson family is slaughtered in their Minnesota farmhouse, and the case gets its first lead: 15-year-old Marie Catherine Hale is found at the scene. She is covered in blood from head to toe, and at first she’s mistaken for a survivor. But not a drop of the blood is hers.

Michael Jensen, son of the local sheriff, yearns to become a journalist and escape his small-town. He never imagined that the biggest story in the country would fall into his lap, or that he would be pulled into the investigation, when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to. 

As Marie recounts her version of the story, it falls to Michael to find the truth: What really happened the night that the Carlsons were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies? 

Summers Sons • Lee Mandelo • Tordotcom • 28 septembre • 384 pages

Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six months later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom with bleeding wrists that mutters of revenge.

As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble, letting in the phantom that hungers for him. 

Cloud Cuckoo Land • Anthony Doerr • Scribner • 28 septembre • 640 pages

Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross.

Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.

Sorties VO • Juillet 2021

The Final Girl Support Group • Grady Hendrix • Berkley Books • 13 juillet • 352 pages

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized–someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

For your own good • Samantha Downing • Berkley Books • 20 juillet • 320 pages

Teddy Crutcher has won Teacher of the Year at the esteemed Belmont Academy, home to the best and brightest.

He says his wife couldn’t be more proud—though no one has seen her in a while.

Teddy really can’t be bothered with the death of a school parent that’s looking more and more like murder or the student digging a little too deep into Teddy’s personal life. His main focus is on pushing these kids to their full academic potential.

All he wants is for his colleagues—and the endlessly meddlesome parents—to stay out of his way.

It’s really too bad that sometimes excellence can come at such a high cost.

The forest of vanishing stars • Kristin Harmel • Gallery Books • 6 juillet • 384 pages

After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest—and in turn, they teach her some surprising lessons about opening her heart after years of isolation. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.

Half sick of shadows • Laura Sebastian • Ace • 6 juillet • 448 pages

Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come–for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future.

On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends–countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic.

When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle.

As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change fate–and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way.

The Ice Swan • J’Nell Ciesielski • Thomas Nelson • 6 juillet • 400 pages

1917, Petrograd. Fleeing the murderous flames of the Russian Revolution, Princess Svetlana Dalsky hopes to find safety in Paris with her mother and sister. But the city is buckling under the weight of the Great War, and the Bolsheviks will not rest until they have erased every Russian aristocrat from memory. Svetlana and her family are forced into hiding in Paris’s underbelly, with little to their name but the jewels they sewed into their corsets before their terrifying escape.

Born the second son of a Scottish duke, the only title Wynn MacCallan cares for is that of surgeon. Putting his talents with a scalpel to good use in the hospitals in Paris, Wynn pushes the boundaries of medical science to give his patients the best care possible. After treating Svetlana for a minor injury, he is pulled into a world of decaying imperial glitter. Intrigued by this mysterious, cold, and beautiful woman, Wynn follows Svetlana to an underground Russian club where drink, dance, and questionable dealings collide on bubbles of vodka.

Out of money and options, Svetlana agrees to a marriage of convenience with the handsome and brilliant Wynn, who will protect her and pay off her family’s debts. It’s the right thing for a good man to do, but Wynn cannot help but hope the marriage will turn into one of true affection. When Wynn’s life takes an unexpected turn, so does Svetlana’s—and soon Paris becomes as dangerous as Petrograd. And as the Bolsheviks chase them to Scotland and beyond, Wynn and Svetlana begin to wonder if they will ever be able to outrun the love they are beginning to feel for one another.

The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer • Dean Jobb • Algonquin Books • 13 juillet • 432 pages

“When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals,” Sherlock Holmes observed during one of his most baffling investigations. “He has nerve and he has knowledge.” In the span of fifteen years, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream poisoned at least ten people in the United States, Britain, and Canada, a death toll with almost no precedents. Structured around Cream’s London murder trial in 1892, when he was finally brought to justice, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream exposes the blind trust given to medical practitioners, as well as the flawed detection methods, bungled investigations, corrupt officials, and stifling morality of Victorian society that allowed Cream to prey on vulnerable and desperate women, many of whom had turned to him for medical help.

Dean Jobb vividly re-creates this largely forgotten historical account against the backdrop of the birth of modern policing and newly adopted forensic methods, though most police departments still scoffed at using science to solve crimes. But then most police departments could hardly imagine that serial killers existed—the term was unknown at the time. As the Chicago Tribune wrote then, Cream’s crimes marked the emergence of a new breed of killer, one who operated without motive or remorse, who “murdered simply for the sake of murder.”

The War Nurse • Tracey Enerson Wood • Sourcebooks Landmark • 6 juillet • 304 pages

Superintendent of Nurses Julia Stimson must recruit sixty-five nurses to relieve the battle-worn British, months before American troops are ready to be deployed. She knows that the young nurses serving near the front lines of will face a challenging situation, but nothing could have prepared her for the chaos that awaits when they arrive at British Base Hospital 12 in Rouen, France. The primitive conditions, a convoluted, ineffective system, and horrific battle wounds are enough to discourage the most hardened nurses, and Julia can do nothing but lead by example―even as the military doctors undermine her authority and make her question her very place in the hospital tent.

When trainloads of soldiers stricken by a mysterious respiratory illness arrive one after the other, overwhelming the hospital’s limited resources, and threatening the health of her staff, Julia faces an unthinkable choice―to step outside the bounds of her profession and risk the career she has fought so hard for, or to watch the people she cares for most die in her arms.

The Book of Accidents • Chuck Wending • Del Rey Books • 20 juillet • 544 pages

Long ago, Nathan lived in a house in the country with his abusive father—and has never told his family what happened there.

Long ago, Maddie was a little girl making dolls in her bedroom when she saw something she shouldn’t have—and is trying to remember that lost trauma by making haunting sculptures.

Long ago, something sinister, something hungry, walked in the tunnels and the mountains and the coal mines of their hometown in rural Pennsylvania.

Now, Nate and Maddie Graves are married, and they have moved back to their hometown with their son, Oliver. And now what happened long ago is happening again . . . and it is happening to Oliver. He meets a strange boy who becomes his best friend, a boy with secrets of his own and a taste for dark magic.

This dark magic puts them at the heart of a battle of good versus evil and a fight for the soul of the family—and perhaps for all of the world. But the Graves family has a secret weapon in this battle: their love for one another. 

Top 5 Wednesday #2 • Family Dynamics

Le thème de cette semaine m’inspire énormément. Le 15 mai a eu lieu la journée mondiale de la famille, d’où ce sujet pour ce mercredi. Il est pris dans un sens très large, car il est autant question des liens du sang que de la famille que l’on se crée. J’ai essayé, dans la mesure du possible, de piocher dans mes récentes lectures. La semaine dernière, sur le thème des « lieux communs », j’écrivais que j’aimais beaucoup les sagas familiales… Cet article est un peu la continuité de ce dernier.

Thème : Family dynamics

Among the leaving and the dead d’Inara Verzemnieks

Inara Verzemnieks was raised by her Latvian grandparents in Washington State, among expatriates who scattered smuggled Latvian sand over coffins, the children singing folk songs about a land none of them had visited. Her grandmother Livija’s stories vividly recreated the home she fled during the Second World War, when she was separated from her sister, Ausma, whom she wouldn’t see again for more than fifty years.

Journeying back to their remote village, Inara comes to know Ausma and her trauma as an exile to Siberia under Stalin, while reconstructing Livija’s survival through her years as a refugee. In uniting their stories, Inara honors both sisters in a haunting and luminous account of loss, survival, resilience, and love.

Cet ouvrage est un plus un essai autour de la famille, l’importance de cette dernière dans la construction d’un individu et de son histoire. L’auteur écrit à propos de sa grand-mère et de la soeur de cette dernière, de sa volonté de comprendre ses racines, leurs histoires. Il est dommage que parfois l’écriture poétique et lyrique de l’auteur prend trop le pas sur le sujet abordé, apportant des longueurs.

L’Assommoir d’Émile Zola

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

Comment ne pas parler de dynamiques familiales sans évoquer Zola ? Sa série Les Rougon-Macquart rentre pleinement dans cette catégorique. Elle est en l’exemple même, car Zola étudie à travers une famille les prédispositions à l’alcoolisme, par exemple, ou à la folie… J’en suis au septième tome, L’Assommoir et jusqu’à présent, rares sont les tomes qui m’ont déçue.

After Alice fell de Kim Taylor Blackemore

New Hampshire, 1865. Marion Abbott is summoned to Brawders House asylum to collect the body of her sister, Alice. She’d been found dead after falling four stories from a steep-pitched roof. Officially: an accident. Confidentially: suicide. But Marion believes a third option: murder.

Returning to her family home to stay with her brother and his second wife, the recently widowed Marion is expected to quiet her feelings of guilt and grief—to let go of the dead and embrace the living. But that’s not easy in this house full of haunting memories.

Just when the search for the truth seems hopeless, a stranger approaches Marion with chilling words: I saw her fall.

Now Marion is more determined than ever to find out what happened that night at Brawders, and why. With no one she can trust, Marion may risk her own life to uncover the secrets buried with Alice in the family plot.

Sorti cette année, ce roman serait presque un huis clos au sein d’une famille. En effet, la mort de la plus jeune soeur, Alice, rend les relations tendues entre Marion et son frère et sa belle-soeur. Il n’y a pas que la mort de la plus jeune des soeurs qui empoisonne l’atmosphère, mais bien d’autres sombres secrets. C’est un roman que j’ai beaucoup aimé.

Quand Hitler s’empara du lapin rose de Judith Kerr

Imaginez que le climat se détériore dans votre pays, au point que certains citoyens soient menacés dans leur existence. Imaginez surtout que votre père se trouve être l’un de ces citoyens et qu’il soit obligé d’abandonner tout et de partir sur-le-champ, pour éviter la prison et même la mort. C’est l’histoire d’Anna dans l’Allemagne nazie d’Adolf Hitler. Elle a neuf ans et ne s’occupe guère que de crayons de couleur, de visites au zoo avec son « oncle » Julius et de glissades dans la neige. Brutalement les choses changent. Son père disparaît sans prévenir. Puis, elle-même et le reste de sa famille s’expatrient pour le rejoindre à l’étranger. Départ de Berlin qui ressemble à une fuite. Alors commence la vie dure – mais non sans surprises – de réfugiés. D’abord la Suisse, près de Zurich. Puis Paris. Enfin Londres. Odyssée pleine de fatigues et d’angoisses mais aussi de pittoresque et d’imprévu – et toujours drôles – d’Anna et de son frère Max affrontant l’inconnu et contraints de vaincre toutes sortes de difficultés – dont la première et non la moindre: celle des langues étrangères! Ce récit autobiographique de Judith Kerr nous enchante par l’humour qui s’en dégage, et nous touche par cette particulière vibration de ton propre aux souvenirs de famille, quand il apparaît que la famille fut une de celles où l’on s’aime…

J’ai déjà eu l’occasion d’évoquer ce roman et son adaptation cinématographique sur le blog. [lien] C’est une très belle histoire d’une famille qui reste unie malgré les épreuves et qui fait preuve d’une grande résilience. Il y a un beau message dans ce roman, où la famille, le fait de rester ensemble malgré les difficultés sont les choses les plus importantes.

Guerre & Paix de Léon Tolstoï

1805 à Moscou, en ces temps de paix fragile, les Bolkonsky, les Rostov et les Bézoukhov constituent les personnages principaux d’une chronique familiale. Une fresque sociale où l’aristocratie, de Moscou à Saint-Pétersbourg, entre grandeur et misérabilisme, se prend au jeu de l’ambition sociale, des mesquineries, des premiers émois.

1812, la guerre éclate et peu à peu les personnages imaginaires évoluent au sein même des événements historiques. Le conte social, dépassant les ressorts de l’intrigue psychologique, prend une dimension d’épopée historique et se change en récit d’une époque. La “Guerre” selon Tolstoï, c’est celle menée contre Napoléon par l’armée d’Alexandre, c’est la bataille d’Austerlitz, l’invasion de la Russie, l’incendie de Moscou, puis la retraite des armées napoléoniennes.

Entre les deux romans de sa fresque, le portrait d’une classe sociale et le récit historique, Tolstoï tend une passerelle, livrant une réflexion philosophique sur le décalage de la volonté humaine aliénée à l’inéluctable marche de l’Histoire ou lorsque le destin façonne les hommes malgré eux.

Un autre auteur spécialisé dans les chroniques familiales, Léon Tolstoï. Dans ce récit, il s’intéresse à plusieurs familles de l’aristocratie russe. Il montre les relations au sein d’une même famille et celles qu’elles entretiennent entre elles. C’est une très bonne lecture que je recommande. Mon avis est disponible sur le blog. [lien]

Sorties VO • Mai 2021

The Radio Operator • Ulla Lenze • Harper Via • 4 mai • 304 pages

At the end of the 1930s, Europe is engulfed in war. Though America is far from the fighting, the streets of New York have become a battlefield. Anti-Semitic and racist groups spread hate, while German nationalists celebrate Hitler’s strength and power. Josef Klein, a German immigrant, remains immune to the troubles roiling his adopted city. The multicultural neighborhood of Harlem is his world, a lively place full of sidewalk tables where families enjoy their dinner and friends indulge in games of chess. 

Josef’s great passion is the radio. His skill and technical abilities attract the attention of influential men who offer him a job as a shortwave operator. But when Josef begins to understand what they’re doing, it’s too late; he’s already a little cog in the big wheel—part of a Nazi espionage network working in Manhattan. Discovered by American authorities, Josef is detained at Ellis Island, and eventually deported to Germany.

Back in his homeland, fate leads him to his brother Carl’s family, soap merchants in Neuss—where he witnesses the seductive power of the Nazis and the war’s terrible consequences—and finally to South America, where Josef hopes to start over again as José. Eventually, Josef realizes that no matter how far he runs or how hard he tries, there is one indelible truth he cannot escape: How long can you hide from your own past, before it catches up with you?

The woman with the blue star • Pam Jenoff • Park Row • 4 mai • 336 pages

1942. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents amid the horrors of the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous sewers beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers.

Ella Stepanek is an affluent Polish girl living a life of relative ease with her stepmother, who has developed close alliances with the occupying Germans. Scorned by her friends and longing for her fiancé, who has gone off to war, Ella wanders Kraków restlessly. While on an errand in the market, she catches a glimpse of something moving beneath a grate in the street. Upon closer inspection, she realizes it’s a girl hiding.

Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dangers of the war worsen, their lives are set on a collision course that will test them in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by harrowing true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is an emotional testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive. 

Luck of the Titanic • Stacey Lee • G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers • 4 mai • 304 pages

Southampton, 1912: Seventeen-year-old British-Chinese Valora Luck has quit her job and smuggled herself aboard the Titanic with two goals in mind: to reunite with her twin brother Jamie–her only family now that both their parents are dead–and to convince a part-owner of the Ringling Brothers Circus to take the twins on as acrobats. Quick-thinking Val talks her way into opulent firstclass accommodations and finds Jamie with a group of fellow Chinese laborers in third class. But in the rigidly stratified world of the luxury liner, Val’s ruse can only last so long, and after two long years apart, it’s unclear if Jamie even wants the life Val proposes. Then, one moonless night in the North Atlantic, the unthinkable happens–the supposedly unsinkable ship is dealt a fatal blow–and Val and her companions suddenly find themselves in a race to survive.

The shadow in the glass • J.J.A. Harwood • Harper Voyager • 4 mai • 416 pages

Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid. 

Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn’t permitted to enter. 

One night, among her beloved books of far-off lands, Ella’s wishes are answered. At the stroke of midnight, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases. But each wish comes at a price and Ella must to decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay it. 

Madam • Phoebe Wynn • St Martin’s Press • 18 mai • 352 pages

For 150 years, high above rocky Scottish cliffs, Caldonbrae Hall has sat untouched, a beacon of excellence in an old ancestral castle. A boarding school for girls, it promises that the young women lucky enough to be admitted will emerge “resilient and ready to serve society.”

Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie: a 26-year-old Classics teacher, Caldonbrae’s new head of the department, and the first hire for the school in over a decade. At first, Rose is overwhelmed to be invited into this institution, whose prestige is unrivaled. But she quickly discovers that behind the school’s elitist veneer lies an impenetrable, starkly traditional culture that she struggles to reconcile with her modernist beliefs—not to mention her commitment to educating “girls for the future.”

It also doesn’t take long for Rose to suspect that there’s more to the secret circumstances surrounding the abrupt departure of her predecessor—a woman whose ghost lingers everywhere—than anyone is willing to let on. In her search for this mysterious former teacher, Rose instead uncovers the darkness that beats at the heart of Caldonbrae, forcing her to confront the true extent of the school’s nefarious purpose, and her own role in perpetuating it.

The Nine: The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany • Gwen Strauss • St Martin’s Press • 4 mai • 336 pages

The Nine follows the true story of the author’s great aunt Hélène Podliasky, who led a band of nine female resistance fighters as they escaped a German forced labor camp and made a ten-day journey across the front lines of WWII from Germany back to Paris.

The nine women were all under thirty when they joined the resistance. They smuggled arms through Europe, harbored parachuting agents, coordinated communications between regional sectors, trekked escape routes to Spain and hid Jewish children in scattered apartments. They were arrested by French police, interrogated and tortured by the Gestapo. They were subjected to a series of French prisons and deported to Germany. The group formed along the way, meeting at different points, in prison, in transit, and at Ravensbrück. By the time they were enslaved at the labor camp in Leipzig, they were a close-knit group of friends. During the final days of the war, forced onto a death march, the nine chose their moment and made a daring escape.

The Cave Dwellers • Christina McDowell • Gallery Scout Press • 25 mai • 352 pages

They are the families considered worthy of a listing in the exclusive Green Book—a discriminative diary created by the niece of Edith Roosevelt’s social secretary. Their aristocratic bloodlines are woven into the very fabric of Washington—generation after generation. Their old money and manner lurk through the cobblestone streets of Georgetown, Kalorama, and Capitol Hill. They only socialize within their inner circle, turning a blind eye to those who come and go on the political merry-go-round. These parents and their children live in gilded existences of power and privilege.

But what they have failed to understand is that the world is changing. And when the family of one of their own is held hostage and brutally murdered, everything about their legacy is called into question.

They’re called The Cave Dwellers.

The lights of Prague • Nicole Jarvis • Titan Books • 18 mai • 416 pages

In the quiet streets of Prague all manner of otherworldly creatures lurk in the shadows. Unbeknownst to its citizens, their only hope against the tide of predators are the dauntless lamplighters – a secret elite of monster hunters whose light staves off the darkness each night. Domek Myska leads a life teeming with fraught encounters with the worst kind of evil: pijavice, bloodthirsty and soulless vampiric creatures. Despite this, Domek find solace in his moments spent in the company of his friend, the clever and beautiful Lady Ora Fischerová– a widow with secrets of her own.

When Domek finds himself stalked by the spirit of the White Lady – a ghost who haunts the baroque halls of Prague castle – he stumbles across the sentient essence of a will-o’-the-wisp, a mischievous spirit known to lead lost travellers to their death, but who, once captured, are bound to serve the desires of their owners.

After discovering a conspiracy amongst the pijavice that could see them unleash terror on the daylight world, Domek finds himself in a race against those who aim to twist alchemical science for their own dangerous gain.

The whispering dead • Darcy Coates • Poisoned Pen Press • 4 mai • 256 pages

Homeless, hunted, and desperate to escape a bitter storm, Keira takes refuge in an abandoned groundskeeper’s cottage. Her new home is tucked away at the edge of a cemetery, surrounded on all sides by gravestones: some recent, some hundreds of years old, all suffering from neglect.

And in the darkness, she can hear the unquiet dead whispering.

The cemetery is alive with faint, spectral shapes, led by a woman who died before her time… and Keira, the only person who can see her, has become her new target. Determined to help put the ghost to rest, Keira digs into the spirit’s past life with the help of unlikely new friends, and discovers a history of deception, ill-fated love, and murder.

But the past is not as simple as it seems, and Keira’s time is running out. Tangled in a dangerous web, she has to find a way to free the spirit… even if it means offering her own life in return.

Judith Kerr • Quand Hitler s’empara du lapin rose (1971)

Quand Hitler s’empara du lapin rose • Judith Kerr • 1971 • Le Livre de Poche • 314 pages

Imaginez que le climat se détériore dans votre pays, au point que certains citoyens soient menacés dans leur existence. Imaginez surtout que votre père se trouve être l’un de ces citoyens et qu’il soit obligé d’abandonner tout et de partir sur-le-champ, pour éviter la prison et même la mort. C’est l’histoire d’Anna dans l’Allemagne nazie d’Adolf Hitler. Elle a neuf ans et ne s’occupe guère que de crayons de couleur, de visites au zoo avec son « oncle » Julius et de glissades dans la neige. Brutalement les choses changent. Son père disparaît sans prévenir. Puis, elle-même et le reste de sa famille s’expatrient pour le rejoindre à l’étranger. Départ de Berlin qui ressemble à une fuite. Alors commence la vie dure – mais non sans surprises – de réfugiés. D’abord la Suisse, près de Zurich. Puis Paris. Enfin Londres. Odyssée pleine de fatigues et d’angoisses mais aussi de pittoresque et d’imprévu – et toujours drôles – d’Anna et de son frère Max affrontant l’inconnu et contraints de vaincre toutes sortes de difficultés – dont la première et non la moindre: celle des langues étrangères! Ce récit autobiographique de Judith Kerr nous enchante par l’humour qui s’en dégage, et nous touche par cette particulière vibration de ton propre aux souvenirs de famille, quand il apparaît que la famille fut une de celles où l’on s’aime…

J’ai ce roman dans ma liste d’envie depuis quelques années. Il a fallu que son adaptation soit disponible à la demande pour que je me décide enfin à l’acheter et à le lire. J’ai passé un très bon moment avec les deux.

Quand Hitler s’empara du lapin rose est un roman autobiographique. Judith Kerr s’est inspirée de sa propre histoire et celle de sa famille. Son frère et elle deviennent Max et Anna. Elle raconte son exil loin d’Allemagne, après les élections de 1933 qui ont vu l’arrivée des nazis au pouvoir. La famille a été contrainte de fuir, car le père, un intellectuel juif, a souvent pris position contre le national-socialisme. C’est une histoire prenante. Dès les premières pages ou minutes du film, j’ai pris à coeur le destin d’Anna. J’avais tout de même l’espoir que les siens puissent rentrer dans leur pays, même si, en tant qu’adulte et connaissant l’Histoire, je savais que c’était impossible. Finalement, la question a été de savoir où ils allaient définitivement s’installer et se reconstruire.

Il y a beaucoup d’émotions retranscrites et, en tant que lectrice, je suis passée par tellement de sentiments différents, en même temps que la famille Kemper : de la tristesse à la colère, de l’espoir au désespoir le plus total… J’ai été impressionnée par la résilience d’Anna et Max alors qu’ils sont si jeunes, ainsi que de leurs parents. Ils avancent, essaient constamment de se reconstruire. Ils tentent tant bien que mal de s’adapter à chaque fois à un nouveau pays, une nouvelle langue et de découvrir des coutumes différentes. C’est un aspect que j’ai énormément apprécié de ce roman. J’avoue que je n’ai pas pu m’empêcher de penser à mes grands-parents maternels, qui, dans un autre contexte, ont fui la guerre civile espagnole, puis la guerre d’Algérie.

C’est un roman que j’avais tout de même peur de ne pas apprécier à sa juste valeur par son côté très jeunesse. Le public visé est celui qui a l’âge d’Anna, c’est-à-dire une dizaine d’années. Le livre est écrit de son point de vue. Cependant, je l’ai vraiment apprécié par tous les aspects que j’ai évoqués auparavant : un récit d’exil, de résilience, de l’importance de la famille avec toutes les épreuves qu’elle doit traverser. Il y a aussi les différents personnages. La famille est attachante et il y a de très jolis passages. Comme le dit si bien Anna, tant qu’ils sont ensemble, tout va pour le mieux.

En 2019, Quand Hitler s’empara du lapin rose a fait l’objet d’une adaptation par un studio allemand avec Oliver Masucci dans le rôle du père. C’est un acteur que j’apprécie énormément. En France, il est notamment connu pour son rôle d’Ulrich dans la série Dark de Netflix. Je ne connaissais pas les autres acteurs. L’actrice qui joue Anna est très bien, mais elle ne crève pas l’écran non plus. Aucun d’eux d’ailleurs. Ils sont bons dans leurs rôles, mais je n’ai pas vu de performances exceptionnelles.

Cependant, cette adaptation est extrêmement fidèle. Je n’ai relevé que deux différences, sans qu’elles apportent de véritables chamboulements dans l’intrigue. Par exemple, par rapport au livre, il y a un personnage secondaire qui manque à l’appel, mais son absence ne m’a pas dérangé. Elle n’apportait pas grand chose à l’intrigue dans le livre. Le deuxième changement est lorsqu’ils sont à Paris. Ils reçoivent l’aide d’un membre de leur famille dans le livre, une tante si mes souvenirs sont bons, alors que dans le film, il s’agit d’un metteur en scène allemand dont le père d’Anna avait souvent fait la critique. En revanche, j’ai énormément aimé la musique qui accompagne parfaitement les émotions présentes.

Que ce soit pour le livre ou son adaptation cinématographique, je n’ai pas eu de gros coup de coeur. Ça se laisse lire ou regarder, mais je n’en garderai pas un souvenir impérissable. Ils s’arrêtent tous les deux alors que la famille arrive à Londres. Le livre a en effet un deuxième tome, Ici Londres. S’il croise ma route un jour, je le lirai avec plaisir, mais ce n’est pas ma priorité.

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.

Sorties VO • Décembre 2020

The Last Resort Susi Holliday • 1 décembre • Thomas & Mercer • 300 pages

When Amelia is invited to an all-expenses-paid retreat on a private island, the mysterious offer is too good to refuse. Along with six other strangers, she’s told they’re here to test a brand-new product for Timeo Technologies. But the guests’ excitement soon turns to terror when the real reason for their summons becomes clear.

Each guest has a guilty secret. And when they’re all forced to wear a memory-tracking device that reveals their dark and shameful deeds to their fellow guests, there’s no hiding from the past. This is no luxury retreat—it’s a trap they can’t get out of.

As the clock counts down to the lavish end-of-day party they’ve been promised, injuries and in-fighting split the group. But with no escape from the island—or the other guests’ most shocking secrets—Amelia begins to suspect that her only hope for survival is to be the last one standing. Can she confront her own dark past to uncover the truth—before it’s too late to get out?

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder • T.A. Willberg • 29 décembre • Park Row • 336 pages

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.

Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant for Miss Brickett’s named Michelle White receives a letter warning her that a heinous act is about to occur. She goes to investigate but finds the room empty. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see—her death the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect.

Almost unwillingly, Marion Lane, a first-year Inquirer-in-training, finds herself being drawn ever deeper into the investigation. When her friend and mentor is framed for the crime, to clear his name she must sort through the hidden alliances at Miss Brickett’s and secrets dating back to WWII. Masterful, clever and deliciously suspenseful, Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder is a fresh take on the Agatha Christie—style locked-room mystery with an exciting new heroine detective at the helm. 

The Cousins • Karen McManus • 1 décembre • Delacorte Press • 336 pages

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point–not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious–and dark–their family’s past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over–and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

The Chanel Sisters • Judithe Little • 29 décembre • Graydon House • 400 pages

Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for something better. Abandoned by their family years before, they’ve grown up under the guidance of pious nuns preparing them for simple lives as the wives of tradesmen or shopkeepers. At night, their secret stash of romantic novels and magazine cutouts beneath the floorboards are all they have to keep their dreams of the future alive.

The walls of the convent can’t shield them forever, and when they’re finally of age, the Chanel sisters set out together with a fierce determination to prove themselves worthy to a society that has never accepted them. Their journey propels them out of poverty and to the stylish cafés of Moulins, the dazzling performance halls of Vichy—and to a small hat shop on the rue Cambon in Paris, where a business takes hold and expands to the glamorous French resort towns. But when World War I breaks out, their lives are irrevocably changed, and the sisters must gather the courage to fashion their own places in the world, even if apart from each other.

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie • Marie Benedict • 29 décembre • Sourcebooks Landmarks • 288 pages

In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing. Investigators find her empty car on the edge of a deep, gloomy pond, the only clues some tire tracks nearby and a fur coat left in the car—strange for a frigid night. Her husband and daughter have no knowledge of her whereabouts, and England unleashes an unprecedented manhunt to find the up-and-coming mystery author. Eleven days later, she reappears, just as mysteriously as she disappeared, claiming amnesia and providing no explanations for her time away. 

The puzzle of those missing eleven days has persisted. With her trademark exploration into the shadows of history, acclaimed author Marie Benedict brings us into the world of Agatha Christie, imagining why such a brilliant woman would find herself at the center of such a murky story. 

The Berlin Girl • Mandy Robotham • 8 décembre • Avon • 400 pages

Berlin, 1938: It’s the height of summer, and Germany is on the brink of war. When fledgling reporter Georgie Young is posted to Berlin, alongside fellow Londoner Max Spender, she knows they are entering the eye of the storm.

Arriving to a city swathed in red flags and crawling with Nazis, Georgie feels helpless, witnessing innocent people being torn from their homes. As tensions rise, she realises she and Max have to act – even if it means putting their lives on the line.

But when she digs deeper, Georgie begins to uncover the unspeakable truth about Hitler’s Germany – and the pair are pulled into a world darker than she could ever have imagined…

The Berlin Shadow: Living with the Ghosts of the Kindertransport • Jonathan Lichtenstein •15 décembre • Brown Spark • 320 pages

In 1939, Jonathan Lichtenstein’s father Hans escaped Nazi-occupied Berlin as a child refugee on the Kindertransport. Almost every member of his family died after Kristallnacht, and, upon arriving in England to make his way in the world alone, Hans turned his back on his German Jewish culture.

Growing up in post-war rural Wales where the conflict was never spoken of, Jonathan and his siblings were at a loss to understand their father’s relentless drive and sometimes eccentric behavior. As Hans enters old age, he and Jonathan set out to retrace his journey back to Berlin.

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.

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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. 

KERR Philip • Prague Fatale (2015)

Berlin, 1942. Bernie Gunther, capitaine dans le service du renseignement SS, est de retour du front de l’Est. Il découvre une ville changée, mais pour le pire. Entre le black-out, le rationnement, et un meurtrier qui effraie la population, tout concourt à rendre la vie misérable et effrayante. Affecté au département des homicides, Bernie enquête sur le meurtre d’un ouvrier de chemin de fer néerlandais. Un soir, il surprend un homme violentant une femme dans la rue. Qui est-elle ? Bernie prend des risques démesurés en emmenant cette inconnue à Prague, où le général Reinhard Heydrich l’a invité en personne pour fêter sa nomination au poste de Reichsprotektor de Bohême-Moravie.

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Depuis ma première rencontre avec Philip Kerr et son personnage atypique, Bernie Gunther, cette série reste une des rares qui a su garder ma fidélité. Déjà huit tomes de lus pour onze de parus et jamais je m’en suis lassée. Qu’est-ce qui peut expliquer qu’au bout de tant de livres, je reviens toujours vers cet auteur et son détective ? Pour ma part, je continue à lire dans l’ordre de parution et non dans un quelconque ordre chronologique. L’auteur avance ou recule dans le temps au fil des livres, mais sans pour autant qu’elle soit impossible à reconstruire. Dans Prague Fatale, il s’intéresse à ce que son personnage a fait durant les premières années de guerre.

Il doit exister une recette « Philip Kerr » qui réussit à tous les coups. Pour moi, le premier ingrédient magique est le mélange entre la réalité et la fiction qui est exécuté d’une manière absolument parfaite. Il est toujours difficile de savoir où s’arrête l’une et où commence l’autre. Si j’ai conscience que Bernie Gunther est un personnage fictif, il y a parfois d’autres protagonistes, plus secondaires généralement, où la question peut être légitimement posée. Il m’arrive quelques fois de faire des recherches, par pure curiosité pour découvrir qu’il ou elle a réellement existé ou non.

Lire un Philip Kerr, c’est aussi l’impression d’apprendre de nouvelles choses sur la Seconde Guerre mondiale alors que je pensais avoir fait le tour depuis longtemps. Derrière chaque roman de la série, il y a un incroyable travail de recherches qui permet de faire revivre la société nazie à différentes périodes de son existence ou ses principaux dirigeants. Dans Prague Fatale, il s’intéresse aux premières années de guerre et les quelques mois avant l’assassinat de Reinhard Heydrich, le Reichsprotektor de Bohême-Moravie. Le temps d’un tome, une ambiance glaçante est mise en place car il est véritablement décrit comme une personne froide et calculatrice, à qui personne ne peut faire confiance. Même en tant que lectrice, je n’avais pas très envie de le voir apparaître. Je n’avais plus ressenti cela depuis un autre tome où Philip Kerr faisait croiser le chemin de son détective avec celui de Joseph Mengele. Il y avait également un travail fantastique réalisé sur l’ambiance.

Une autre constante est la qualité d’écriture et de l’intrigue, notamment lorsqu’il s’agit de retranscrire les émotions des personnages et leurs caractères, donnant ainsi plus d’épaisseur à ces derniers et de réalisme à l’intrigue. Bernie Gunther est toujours un des personnages que je préfère avec son humour noir et son ironie. Il n’a pas sa langue dans sa poche et dans Prague Fatale, c’est l’une des rares fois où il reste silencieux. Pour des lecteurs qui le connaissent bien, cela renforce l’ambiance lourde de ce tome. Nous ne sommes pas devant n’importe quel officier de la SS et j’ai d’autant plus l’impression de côtoyer les différents personnages au côté de l’ancien policier.

De plus, l’intrigue policière est menée d’une main de maître d’un bout à l’autre. Parfois, Philip Kerr met en place plusieurs enquêtes policières et c’est le cas dans ce huitième tome. Entre celle menée par Bernie Gunther à Berlin, puis une autre ordonnée par Heydrich, il y a une autre enquête menée par la Gestapo qui recherche des terroristes tchèques… Premièrement, je ne me suis pas emmêlée les pinceaux car l’auteur arrive parfaitement à les intégrer dans l’intrigue et elles trouvent toutes plus ou moins une fin. En deuxième lieu, Philip Kerr garde à l’esprit que l’histoire doit rester plausible, comme si elle aurait pu réellement avoir eu lieu. Il reste toujours une dimension réaliste dans chacun de ses livres. Il n’y a pas toujours de coupables ou, comme c’est parfois le cas, Bernie Gunther trouve le coupable mais ce dernier ne sera jamais inquiété par la justice dans la mesure où cela n’arrange pas le pouvoir en place. Le cadre de l’intrigue est un régime politique totalitaire où la notion même de justice est biaisée.

Toutefois, ce que je retiens de ce Prague Fatale, ce sont les influences de l’auteur. Outre le fait que j’adorerai connaître les ouvrages dont Philip Kerr s’inspire pour construire sa série, cette huitième enquête menée par Bernie Gunther n’est pas sans rappeler les romans d’Agatha Christie, transposés dans la société du Troisième Reich. C’est un peu incongru, mais clairement revendiqué, même par le coupable du crime. Au final, cet emprunt fait au classique de la littérature policière fonctionne à merveille dans ce contexte et j’y ai vu un bel hommage aux maîtres du genre, faisant de ce tome un de ceux que j’ai préféré… Même s’ils sont tous incroyablement bons.

Philip Kerr reste une très bonne référence pour les romans policiers historiques. Ce sont des oeuvres de qualité sur tout un tas d’aspects différents : l’écriture, l’intrigue, les recherches documentaires pour donner plus de réalisme. Prague Fatale est déjà le huitième tome, mais je me réjouis de savoir qu’il m’en reste encore à lire. Une des dernières raisons faisant que je continue est qu’il n’y a jamais de redondances. Je n’ai, pour le moment, jamais eu l’impression de lire toujours la même chose et je croise les doigts pour que ça continue ainsi. L’auteur aborde toujours des points différents de l’histoire et de la vie de son personnage principal. Il arrive à me passionner à chaque fois et j’en redemande. Encore un tome qui s’est lu en un claquement de doigts.

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