Genevieve Gornichec • The Witch’s Heart (2021)

The Witch’s Heart • Genevieve Gornichec • Ace Book • 368 pages • Février 2021

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

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

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


Dès que je vois qu’un roman est une réécriture d’un conte ou d’un écrit issu de la mythologie, j’arrête de réfléchir. Il me le faut absolument. Genevieve Gornichec s’inspire des mythes et légendes nordiques, en essayant de lui donner un angle plus féministe, à la manière de Madeline Miller avec son Circé, par exemple. Ce dernier a d’ailleurs été un coup de coeur. The Witch’s Heart a été une catastrophe d’un bout à l’autre. L’auteur donne l’impression d’avoir tenté de surfer sur une mode, mais sans y réussir.

Genevieve Gornichec fait revivre la sorcière Angrboda, épouse de Loki et mère de trois enfants dont Hel. Sa place au sein de la mythologie nordique aurait pu faire d’elle un personnage extrêmement intéressant et les premières pages du roman ont également été prometteuses. La sorcière connaît la trahison des dieux, notamment d’Odin. Elle a été brûlée vive plusieurs fois. Ce sont autant d’éléments qui auraient pu faire d’Angrboda un personnage vraiment passionnant à suivre, avec un certain caractère et sans concession… Et pourtant, elle est loin de ce à quoi je m’attendais : une sorcière puissante, sombre et torturée. Je retiens de ce personnage une femme qui préfère rester dans sa grotte plutôt que de faire quoi que ce soit, qui se contente de s’occuper de ses enfants et qui ne fait que ce qu’on lui dit de faire. Je n’ai pas du tout trouver quelque chose à sauver dans ce personnage qui est à mourir d’ennui. J’ai eu envie de la secouer et elle a rendu cette lecture houleuse.

En effet, jusqu’à ce que je décide d’abandonner le livre aux environs de la moitié, il n’y a pas grand chose qui se passe. Les saisons se succèdent et se ressemblent : Loki va et vient, sa seule et unique amie vient lui rendre visite et faire affaire avec elle, elle a un enfant… À aucun moment un élément vient donner un coup de fouet à l’intrigue, déranger cette routine pesante. Il y a peu d’actions ou de rebondissements. Cependant, il est difficile de retrouver ces éléments avec un personnage qui n’a aucune curiosité ou goût pour l’aventure. L’auteur ne lui donne aucune perspective et cela s’en ressent à la lecture concernant l’intrigue. Même après une centaine de pages lus, je ne savais pas à quoi Angrboda aspirait. Je me suis beaucoup ennuyée et peut-être que l’histoire allait se révéler passionnante et prenante, mais encore faut-il en arriver là.

Un autre reproche concerne la manière dont le livre est écrit. En effet, The Witch’s Heart se présente comme une succession chronologique de scènes parfois très courtes. Cela donne un rythme très hâché. L’histoire manque cruellement de fluidité, rendant le tout peu agréable à lire. Cette réécriture a vraiment eu du mal à m’emporter et je n’arrive pas y trouver un seul point positif (à part la couverture). The Witch’s Heart est une énorme déception, alors que le roman avait de bons arguments en soi.

Bilan des sorties VO lues • Janvier à Juin 2021

Depuis un peu plus d’un an, je propose un tour d’horizon des sorties VO (en anglais) qui me tentent énormément. J’en lis un certain nombre, mais sans toujours les chroniquer sur le blog. Le mois de Juin vient de toucher à sa fin et, avec lui, la moitié de l’année. L’occasion parfaite pour un petit bilan mi-parcours des parutions déjà lues et celles que j’aimerai encore découvrir.

En cliquant sur les mois, vous accédez à l’article sur les sorties VO correspondant.

Janvier

Livres lus

The House on Vesper Sands – Padraic O’Donnell

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.

J’avais hâte de pouvoir le lire, car il avait de bons arguments : un policier historique, la période victorienne, un meurtre qui semble mettre en oeuvre des forces occultes… Mais au bout d’un gros tiers, l’intrigue n’a toujours pas démarré et le livre commence à devenir trop lent et mon attention descendait en flèche. Même en dépassant la centaine de pages, je n’avais pas le sentiment que l’intrigue avait réellement commencé alors que quasiment un tiers était lu.

The Heiress, The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh – Molly Greeley

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.

Le livre prend place dans l’univers de Jane Austen et notamment Pride & Prejudice, en s’intéressant à la cousine de Fitzwilliam Darcy, Anne de Bourgh. Pas un coup de coeur car, malheureusement, le roman souffre de trop nombreuses longueurs. Cependant, Anne est un personnage attachant à suivre, surtout quand elle sort de son cocon. L’aspect historique est également bien développé.

Lore – Alexandra Bracken

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.

Lore est un roman d’action qui s’inspire de la mythologie grecque. Ce n’est pas totalement un coup de coeur, mais j’ai vraiment passé un bon moment. Il y a une bonne dose d’actions, de rebondissements… L’idée de départ est originale et bien développée.

Don’t tell a soul – Kirsten Miller

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.

En un seul mot… Creepy. L’histoire est dérangeante à souhaite et il y a quelques moments qui font bien frissonner. Il m’est arrivé à plusieurs reprises de devoir le mettre de côté, quand j’étais toute seule en soirée. L’auteur maîtrise parfaitement le suspens et à chaque page tournée, je voulais connaître la vérité, car il y avait quelques bizarreries qui interviennent durant la lecture… J’ai adoré l’évolution de l’intrigue et le livre est un coup de coeur.

Ceux que j’aimerais lire

Our darkest night de Jennifer Robson ; The Divines d’Ellie Eaton ; The last garden in England de Julia Kelly ; Faye, faraway d’Helen Fisher ; The Historians de Cecilia Eckbäck ; In the garden of spite de Camilla Bruce ; The Children’s train de Viola Ardone.

Février

Livres lus

The Paris Dressmaker – Kristy Cambron

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

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

Je ressors extrêmement déçue par ce roman. En soi, il avait de quoi me plaire : la mode et plus particulièrement la Maison Chanel, Paris sous l’Occupation, la Résistance et le destin de deux femmes… Malheureusement, l’auteur alterne non seulement les deux points de vue, et deux époques différentes : le début de la guerre et 1944. Cela fait quatre trames différentes, et elles ne sont pas d’égal intérêt. J’ai eu du mal à m’attacher à Simone et Lila.

The Shadow War – Lindsay Smith

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

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

Il y a de bonnes idées : la Seconde Guerre mondiale, des forces occultes et un monde parallèle, une mission impossible… L’intrigue possède beaucoup trop de personnages et de points de vues différents pour que la lecture soit agréable. Je m’y perdais. Par ailleurs, les personnages sont plus des archétypes que réellement travaillés et nuancés. L’histoire traine en longueur alors que je m’attendais à plus d’action.

The Witch’s Heart – Genevieve Gornichec

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

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

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

J’adore les réécritures, que ce soit de contes ou de la mythologique. Genevieve Gornichec s’inspire d’une des épouses de Loki, Angrboda la sorcière. Ce type d’ouvrages se veut dans une lignée féministe, mais il rate quelque peu son effet. J’en ai lu la moitié avant d’abandonner. Le livre a été d’un tel ennui que je suis même étonnée d’avoir eu la patience de tenir jusque là.

Ceux que j’aimerais lire

While Paris slept de Ruth Druart ; The house upstairs de Julia Fine ; The invisible woman d’Erika Robuck ; A history of what come next de Sylvain Neuvel ; All Girls d’Emily Layden ; The kitchen front de Jennifer Ryan.

Mars

Livres lus

After Alice felll – Kim Taylor Blakemore

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. 

Un roman rempli de secrets de famille avec une atmosphère loure. Malgré quelques lenteurs qui peuvent parfois ponctuer le livre, les pages se tournent facilement, car l’envie de savoir ce qui est arrivé à Alice est plus forte, tout comme celle de découvrir le ou les secrets du frère de Marion et de son épouse. Pas un coup de coeur, mais une bonne lecture.

The Women of Château Lafayette – Stephanie Dray

A founding mother…
1774. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband’s political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must choose to renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.

A daring visionary…
1914. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Astor Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing–not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France and delivering war-relief over dangerous seas, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what’s right.

A reluctant resistor…
1940. French school-teacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan’s self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become. 

Lafayette revient à la mode après la sortie de la comédie musicale Hamilton. Stephanie Dray en fait l’élément central de son nouveau roman en explorant le destin de trois femmes durant la Révolution française, la Première et la Deuxième Guerre mondiale. Même si les époques sont totalement différentes pour ne pas être confondues, certaines sont plus intéressantes que d’autres. Néanmoins, cela reste un livre que j’ai abandonné.

Ceux que j’aimerais lire

Under the light of the Italian moon de Jennifer Anton ; Vera de Carol Edgarian ; The lost village de Camilla Sten ; The Rose Code de Kate Quinn ; The lost apothecary de Sarah Penner.

Avril

Livres lus

Sistersong – Lucy Holland

535 AD. In the ancient kingdom of Dumnonia, King Cador’s children inherit a fragmented land abandoned by the Romans.

Riva, scarred in a terrible fire, fears she will never heal.
Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, when born a daughter.
And Sinne, the spoiled youngest girl, yearns for romance.

All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold – a last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. But change comes on the day ash falls from the sky, bringing Myrddhin, meddler and magician, and Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear the siblings apart. Riva, Keyne and Sinne must take fate into their own hands, or risk being tangled in a story they could never have imagined; one of treachery, love and ultimately, murder. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.

Le résumé me faisait penser à une pièce de Shakespeare : trois soeurs aux destins différentes et dramatiques. J’ai adoré suivre l’histoire de ces soeurs, d’apprendre à les connaître, leurs secrets, leurs rêves et leurs espoirs. Elles sont différentes et je ne saurai dire laquelle a été ma préférée. Elles m’ont plu pour des raisons diverses. J’ai adoré à la fois le contexte historique (la Grande-Bretagne après la chute de l’Empire romain) et fantastique (la présence de magie et de Merlin). Le coup de coeur n’était pas loin, mais c’est un très bon roman que je ne regrette pas d’avoir découvert.

Ceux que j’aimerais lire

Ariadne de Jennifer Saint ; Near the bone de Christina Henry ; Ophelia de Norman Bacal ; The Mary Shelley Club de Goldy Moldavsky ; The last bookshop of London de Madeline Martin ; The Dictionnary of lost words de Pip Williams.

Mai

Ceux que j’aimerais lire

The Radio Operator d’Ulla Lenze ; Madam de Phoebe Wynne ; The lights of Prague de Nicole Jarvis.

Juin

Ceux que j’aimerais lire

The Wolf and the Woodsman d’Ava Reid ; Daughter of Sparta de Claire M. Andrews ; The nature of the witches de Rachel Griffin ; The Maidens d’Alex Michaelides ; For the Wolf d’Hannah F. Whitten.

Sorties VO • Février 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

La Culture avec un grand A et du latte #2

Ce mois de Mars est passé à une vitesse folle et je ne regrette pas qu’il se termine enfin. Il ne fut pas de tout repos entre l’avancement de mon mémoire et le rendu du projet pour les Journées des Arts et de la Culture dans l’Enseignement supérieur. Nous avons travaillé sur une salle des portraits en choisissant d’inverser les rôles : le visiteur n’est pas celui qui observe les tableaux, mais ces derniers viennent l’épier, en réactualisant les références. La vidéo est juste une merveille.

Du coup, cela a quelque peu influencé les films que j’ai vu en mars afin de chercher les meilleures séquences à ajouter à la vidéo. Le premier film fut l’adaptation de 1984 de George Orwell par Michael Radford… Qu’en dire ? J’ai eu énormément de mal à accrocher et je me suis quelques fois endormie. J’ai tout de fois commandé le livre pour découvrir ce classique que je n’ai pas encore lu. J’ai aussi revu Da Vinci Code (2006). Dans mes souvenirs, il y avait des scènes intéressantes sur l’impression d’être épié par les oeuvres du Louvre. C’est aussi un de mes petits plaisirs coupables. J’ai enchaîné sur un classique du cinéma français que je n’avais jamais vu jusqu’à maintenant, Harry, un ami qui vous veut du bien (2000). Il a plutôt mal vieilli, à mon avis, et je n’en garderai pas un souvenir impérissable.

Du coup, j’en ai un peu oublié ma résolution de tenter l’aventure des westerns. Objectif du mois d’avril… Essayer de voir un classique du genre et un qui soit plus récent. En attendant, j’ai aussi vu Justice League (2017) qui m’a laissé un sentiment quelque peu mitigé. Une très bonne surprise pour la musique, notamment Sigrid et son Everybody knows qui est une merveille. Comparés à Marvel, les DC Comics ont une bien meilleure soundtrack. Cependant, j’ai comme l’impression qu’ils ont du mal à trouver leur ton entre un humour proche de celui de Marvel et un autre plus sombre. Ils oscillent entre les deux. Je retiendrai également le placement de produits qui était un peu trop flagrant. Coucou Mercedes Benz !

J’ai aussi vu The Circle (2017) avec Tom Hanks et Emma Watson. L’idée de départ me semblait prometteuse en proposant une critique des réseaux sociaux et la volonté de toujours plus de transparence. Il est l’adaptation d’un thriller. Le film démontre bien les effets un peu pervers des réseaux sociaux. Cependant, la fin m’a quelque peu déçue. Ce n’était pas ce à quoi je m’attendais et, au final, j’ai pensé qu’elle avait moins d’impact sur le spectateur.

Un peu moins déçue par Zombillenium (2017) qui fut mon premier coup de coeur du mois. Je n’ai rien à redire sur l’histoire et les graphismes qui reprennent les codes de la bande dessinée. Frida (2002) fut aussi une belle découverte. J’admire beaucoup l’oeuvre de Kahlo et le film intègre tellement bien les oeuvres à la proposition esthétique du film, tout en montrant les liens entre son art et les événements de sa vie. L’interprétation de Salma Hayek est absolument irréprochable. Le dernier film vu était Ferdinand (2017) qui dénonce le monde de la corrida et la mise à mort des taureaux, sans tomber dans les clichés.

Du point de vue des séries, j’ai définitivement terminée Agent Carter et ce fut une très bonne deuxième saison. Je ne comprends toujours pas pourquoi elle a été arrêtée, mais Peggy et Jarvis vont me manquer. J’ai également succombé au phénomène Black Mirror en regardant les trois épisodes de la première saison. J’ai été totalement convaincue.

Du point de vue de mes lectures, j’ai continué ma découverte des auteurs français contemporains avec le deuxième tome de La Mort de Staline de Fabien Nury et Thierry Robin que j’ai adoré, mon premier Max Gallo avec La chute de l’Empire romainToday we live d’Emmanuelle Pirotte, Palmyre de Paul Veyne. Pas vraiment de coup de coeur, mais pas de grosses déceptions non plus. La seule va aux Animaux fantastique de J.K. Rowling.

Mon coup de coeur littéraire va pour Lumikko de Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen. Je compte en parler plus longuement sur le blog. Globalement, c’est une bonne surprise. Ce n’était ce à quoi je m’attendais, mais c’était encore mieux. À côté de cela, j’ai lu un comics, Joker de Brian Azzarello et Lee Barmejo, Les enquêtes de Middleton & Grice, Petits meurtres à Mangle Street de M.R.C. Kasasian qui est sympathique mais qui ne révolutionne pas le genre des policiers historiques. Je désirai lire depuis un petit moment Mythologie nordique de Neil Gaiman. Il se laisse lire, mais il ne m’a pas fait une forte impression. Je cite également rapidement le dernier Dan Brown, Origine, dont l’article sera bientôt en ligne. Il y a aussi eu deux lectures en anglais : Velvet undercover de Teri Brown (je vous en reparlerai en novembre, car il fait partie d’un projet) et One dark throne de Kendare Blake qui fut un brin en-dessous du premier.

J’ai aussi profité de ma dernière journée sur Metz pour voir la nouvelle exposition du Centre Pompidou, L’aventure de la couleur. Une petite exposition que j’ai grandement appréciée et qui m’a permis de voir des Matisse, quelques monochromes d’Yves Klein dont l’International Klein Blue est une pure merveille que je peux admirer pendant des heures.

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