Author(s): Alex Capus
It's summer 1918. The First World War is drawing to a close when Leon Le Gall, a French teenager from Cherbourg who has dropped out of school and left home, first meets and falls in love with Louise Janvier. Severely wounded by a German artillery attack, they are separated, both mistakenly believing each other to be dead. Ten years later, while travelling on the Paris Metro, Leon - now married - briefly catches sight of a girl who bears a strong resemblance to Louise, the first love he has never forgotten. He goes in search of her at the insistence of his wife Yvonne. The couple are briefly reunited, but part again with a heavy heart as Louise refuses to destroy Leon's marriage. And then another war tears them apart. Paris is occupied by the Germans, for whom Leon indirectly works at the headquarters of the Paris CID. Louise, an employee of the Banque de France, is shipped off to French West Africa with the bank's gold reserves. Narrated by Leon's grandson, "Leon and Louise" is the story of an enduring passion that survives the vicissitudes of world history and the passage of time, spanning more than forty years. But it is far more than this.
The long-separated lovers are flesh and blood characters vividly captured in complex human relationships and real-life situations: in German-occupied Paris, where Leon wages a lone battle against the abhorrent tasks imposed on him by the SS and his wife fights stubbornly for her family's survival; and in the wilds of Africa, where Louise confronts the hardships of her primitive environment with courage and humour.
alex capus is an acclaimed French-Swiss novelist who writes in German. His translated books include A Matter of Time (Haus) and Sailing by Starlight (Armchair Traveller at the bookHaus).