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.

Mandy Robotham • The Berlin Girl (2020)

The Berlin Girl • Mandy Robotham • 2020 • 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 Girl est la dernière publication de Mandy Robotham. L’année dernière, j’avais beaucoup aimé The Secret Messenger, car, pour une fois, l’intrigue se déroule en Italie durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Ce nouveau roman est dans cette même lignée.

Le contexte historique est original également, et très intéressant. En effet, l’histoire commence quelques mois avant le début du conflit, en septembre 1939, et à Berlin. Le lecteur est au coeur de l’Histoire. Je ne me souviens pas d’avoir lu un roman se déroulant à ce moment précis, ce qui me fait dire qu’il s’agit d’un aspect plutôt original. Se rajoute une autre originalité qui tient au point de vue adopté. Mandy Robotham ne donne pas la parole à une résistante ou à un policier, mais à des journalistes anglais. Ce ne sont pas forcément le type de personnes que j’ai l’habitude de retrouver dans des romans autour de la Seconde Guerre mondiale et le sujet est parfaitement maîtrisé. Il m’a quelque peu fait penser au « roman documentaire » d’Erik Larson, Dans le jardin de la bête. Ce dernier évoque plus la diplomatie, à travers la famille de l’ambassadeur américain de l’époque, mais aussi leur relation avec la presse.

Je dois, toutefois, formuler le même reproche que pour The Secret Messenger. Il y a parfois des petits passages à vide vers le milieu de l’intrigue. Le rythme ralentit entre la mise en place des principaux éléments (les personnages et leurs relations, l’ambiance, le coeur de l’enquête) et le moment où le point central de l’histoire commence réellement. Mandy Robotham est une auteur qui aime prendre son temps pour construire le contexte et l’ambiance, les personnages, leurs caractères… Il est vrai que de ce point de vue, il n’y a rien à redire. J’ai l’impression de voir le Berlin à la veille de la Seconde Guerre mondiale prendre vie sous mes yeux. La fin donne l’impression d’être un peu précipité. Heureusement que les extraits de journaux adoucissent un peu la précipitation des événements. Cependant, je garde tout de même un très bon souvenir de ce livre. Les personnages sont terriblement attachants et on tremble avec eux.

George est typiquement le genre de personnages féminins dont j’apprécie de suivre les aventures. Elle a une certaine éthique, elle recherche la vérité et souhaite toujours la voir éclater au grand jour. Je comprends sa frustration que le monde ne semble pas se rendre compte du danger que les nazis représentent alors qu’elle en est le témoin privilégié. Elle fait preuve de beaucoup d’empathie. Elle sait se montrer forte et courageuse quand il le faut. Pour autant, elle montre aussi ses faiblesses et ses doutes. Elle n’est pas sans peur et sans reproche. Elle illustre parfaitement l’adage, « Si ce n’est pas moi, alors qui ?« . Tout comme Stella, dans The Secret Messenger, ce sont des personnages plutôt nuancés. Quant à son homologue masculin, Max, j’ai mis un peu plus de temps à l’apprécier, mais je me suis réellement attachée à lui au fur et à mesure.

Il y a toute une galerie de personnages secondaires tous plus terriblement attachants les uns que les autres, que ce soient les autres journalistes et reporters étrangers ou la famille de Ruben. Ils permettent d’évoquer d’autres thématiques comme l’absence de liberté d’expression, même pour la presse étrangère basée à Berlin qui doit s’aligner sur les communiqués officiels du Parti, au risque d’être expulsé. Il y a aussi ce que les familles juives doivent subir, la législation antisémite, le transport des enfants en Angleterre et l’espoir pour les parents de les rejoindre le plus vite possible. The Berlin Girl évoque une variété de sujets, mais je n’en dirai pas plus pour celui concernant le coeur de l’enquête de George et Max.

Deuxième roman de Mandy Robotham que je lis et, encore une fois, je ne suis pas passée très loin du coup de coeur. C’est toujours un plaisir de retrouver sa plume. J’ai encore A woman of war à découvrir et qui est présent dans ma bibliothèque. En septembre, elle devrait sortir un autre roman, The Girl behind the Wall. Cette fois-ci, il se déroule durant la Guerre froide, mais toujours à Berlin. Je pense que je serai au rendez-vous pour celui-ci également.

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.

Mandy Robotham • The Secret Messenger (2019)

The Secret Messenger • Mandy Robotham • Décembre 2019 • Avon • 400 pages

Venice, 1943
The world is at war, and Stella Jilani is leading a double life. By day she works in the lion’s den as a typist for the Reich; by night, she risks her life as a messenger for the Italian resistance. Against all odds, Stella must impart Nazi secrets, smuggle essential supplies and produce an underground newspaper on her beloved typewriter.

But when German commander General Breugal becomes suspicious, it seems he will stop at nothing to find the mole, and Stella knows her future could be in jeopardy.

London, 2017
Years later, Luisa Belmont finds a mysterious old typewriter in her attic. Determined to find out who it belonged to, Luisa delves into the past and uncovers a story of fierce love, unimaginable sacrifice and, ultimately, the worst kind of betrayal…

•••

Mandy Robotham est une auteure américaine dont la bibliographie se compose surtout de livres se déroulant durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. The Secret Messenger est son deuxième roman et il a déjà été traduit en français sous le titre La Messagère de l’ombre, publié chez City.

Cet ouvrage m’avait interpellé car, pour une fois, l’intrigue se déroule en Italie et notamment dans la ville de Venise. Les fictions autour de la Résistance se déroulent majoritairement en France. Je lis énormément sur ce sujet et il est vrai que je commence à chercher l’originalité, un autre point vue ou sortir du schéma de la Résistance française (voire même parisienne). The Secret Messenger nous plonge dans la Résistance vénitienne, que je n’ai jamais croisée pour le moment. Rien que pour cet aspect, je garde une très bonne impression de ce livre. Je le referme en ayant appris de nouvelles informations. Même si le roman n’est pas totalement un coup de coeur, je ne pense pas que je l’oublierai rapidement.

En effet, l’histoire telle que nous l’apprenons laisse toujours penser qu’il n’y a jamais eu de résistances au sein des régimes ou pays fascistes de la part de leur population. Que ce soit pour l’Allemagne ou pour l’Italie, c’est un sujet qui est peu évoqué, notamment en littérature. Je n’ai que Seul dans Berlin d’Hans Fallada qui me vient à l’esprit (qui a aussi fait l’objet d’une adaptation cinématographique en 2016 avec Brendan Gleeson et Emma Thompson). The Secret Messenger garde tout de même une vision romantique de la guerre que le roman d’Hans Fallada, par exemple. La guerre est prétexte aux grandes histoires d’amour. En commençant ce genre d’ouvrages, je sais dans quoi je m’engage. Je vais y retrouver des relations amoureuses compliquées ou impossibles, des trahisons, des drames, des rebondissements et des révélations. Parfois, cela fonctionne parfaitement, comme ici, et d’autres fois, pas du tout.

D’autant plus que l’histoire est prenante. Il n’y a pas d’actions rocambolesques ou héroïques à outrance à chaque chapitre. Mandy Robotham s’intéresse plutôt à l’importance des petits actes : tenir un journal résistant, par exemple, écrire une histoire chapitre par chapitre autour de ce que Stella vit et la diffuser dans Venise… Elle puise son inspiration dans le quotidien. J’ai véritablement apprécié cet aspect du roman. Il y avait un côté un peu plus réaliste de la Résistance. L’auteur montre bien que le plus important est l’information : la récupérer, la transmettre à tous les niveaux. Cela peut être informé la population de ce qui se passe réellement et non ce que les journaux de propagande écrivent. C’est aussi transmettre une formation vitale : un mouvement de troupes, un train de marchandises, une descente de la Gestapo ou des fascistes italiens… L’idée principale de ce roman est l’importance et l’impact que les mots peuvent avoir et la Seconde Guerre mondiale a aussi été une guerre des mots.

J’ai vu dans The Secret Messenger un hommage aux staffetas, ces milliers de femmes dont le rôle au sein de la Résistance était simplement de faire circuler des messages ou des objets. Cela pouvait être des grands-mères, attentives à tout, des jeunes mères avec leurs poussettes, des « amies » se rencontrant au café… J’ai adoré que le travail des « petites mains » soit évoqué et célébré. Il est abordé comme un travail absolument essentiel de l’effet de guerre. C’est rare les romans où cet aspect de la Résistance est abordé. Ce sont souvent les grands chefs qui évoqués, les actions héroïques. Il y en a eu et elles sont toutes aussi importantes, mais pour qu’elles aient eu lieu, il faut aussi ces personnes comme les staffetas italiennes.

Par ailleurs, comme bien souvent dans les romans se déroulant durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, il y a une alternance de points de vue entre cette époque et la nôtre. La plupart du temps, je suis sceptique sur l’apport des changements de narrateur, surtout ceux proches de nous. C’est un aspect d’un livre sur lequel je peux être très critique. The Secret Messenger rentre dans ce schéma avec un changement entre Stella, la jeune résistante italienne, et Louisa, sa petite-fille. Classiquement, cette dernière cherche des réponses à ses questions après avoir trouvé un objet dans un grenier. De manière générale, les chapitres qui lui sont dévolus sont réservés à cette quête et les chapitres durant la guerre anticipent les réponses, donnent un autre point de vue…. Heureusement, Mandy Robotham limite drastiquement les points de vue de Louisa. Ils s’intercalent entre de nombreux chapitres dédiés à Stella. Gros point positif pour moi. L’essentiel de l’intrigue concerne les événements vénitiens.

Stella est un personnage attachant et bien construit. Elle sait faire preuve de force et de courage. Cependant, elle a aussi ses faiblesses et ses peurs. Elle s’inquiète pour sa famille, elle a conscience de ses limites. Ce n’est pas une super-héroïne, mais elle montre un visage humain. C’est la raison pour laquelle j’ai vraiment apprécié ce personnage. La romance ne m’a pas dérangé. La question est de savoir, entre ces deux hommes, qui est le mystérieux grand-père de Louisa. Pas de triangles amoureux, toutefois (point positif !), car les deux protagonistes masculins ne se connaissent pas et, donc, pas de compétition entre eux. Très rapidement, j’ai compris vers lequel des deux hommes le coeur de Stella balançait.

Il faut quand même un point négatif dans ce roman, et il concerne la fin. En effet, je l’ai trouvé un peu trop abrupte, notamment par rapport au reste du roman. Le rythme est relativement lent, l’action n’est pas toujours omniprésente, contrairement à la tension qui donne envie de toujours continuer. L’auteur prend son temps et les dernières pages m’ont laissé le sentiment que l’auteur ne savait pas comment finir et, en deux chapitres, c’était terminé à la fois pour la trame de Stella et Louisa. J’ai terminé The Secret Messenger sur une note moins positive que le reste.

Le coup de coeur n’est pas loin. Les dernières pages m’ont laissé un goût doux amer. Cependant, j’ai tout de même envie de découvrir d’autres romans de Mandy Robotham. A Woman of War, également intitulé The German Midwife est déjà dans ma PAL. Il est aussi traduit en français, L’Infirmière d’Hitler. Elle doit sortir le mois prochain un nouveau roman qui, personnellement, est déjà pré-commandé, The Berlin Girl.