Author(s): Michele Roberts
After every war there are stories that are locked away like bluebottles in drawers and kept silent. But sometimes the past can return: in the smell of carbolic soap, in whispers darting through a village after mass, in the colour of an undelivered letter. Jeanne Nerin and Marie-Angele Baudry grow up, side by side yet apart, in the village of Ste Madeleine. Marie-Angele is the daughter of the grocer, inflated with ideas of her own piety and rightful place in society. Jeanne's mother washes clothes for a living. She used to be a Jew until this became too dangerous. Jeanne does not think twice about grasping the slender chances life throws at her. Marie-Angele does not grasp; she aspires to a future of comfort and influence. When war falls out of the sky, along with it tumbles a new, grown-up world. The village must think on its feet, play its part in a game for which no one knows the rules. Not even the dubious hero with 'business contacts' who sweeps Marie-Angele off her feet. Not even the reclusive artist living alone with his sensual, red canvases. In these uncertain times, the enemy may be hiding in your garden shed and the truth is all too easily buried under a pyramid of recriminations. Michele Roberts's new novel is a mesmerising exploration of guilt, faith, desire and judgment, bringing to life a people at war in a way that is at once lyrical and shocking.
A stunning war-time novel set in France from Booker-shortlisted author Michele Roberts
One of Britain's best novelists Independent on Sunday Michele Roberts is one of those writers descended perhaps as much from Monet and Debussy as Virginia Woolf or Keats ... To read a book by her is to savour colour, sound, taste, texture and touch as never before The Times Her fictions are high-risk, unconventional ... The otherwise cautious reader is taken almost without realising it into dangerous and exhilerating territory Rachel Cusk Roberts seems a free spirit, a woman artist in the tradition, perhaps, of George Sand, for whom life itself has been a form of creative self-expression Guardian The novels she has produced ... are remarkable Sunday Times Beguiling, enthusiastic, charming and vivid Amanda Craig, Daily Telegraph Intelligent and passionate ... she transforms feminist cliche into something alive and moving TLS Roberts dazzles ... Her writing breaks new ground The Times
Michele Roberts is the author of twelve highly acclaimed novels, including The Looking Glass and Daughters of the House, which won the WHSmith Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her memoir Paper Houses was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. She has also published poetry and short stories, most recently collected in Mud: Stories of Sex and Love. Half-English and half-French, Michele Roberts lives in London and in the Mayenne, France. She is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres.