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ÂMES GRISES (LES) (French) Mass Market Paperback – Apr 7 2006
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Nous sommes en 1917 dans une petite ville de province. Toute la société des notables est présente et tient son rôle. Le maire, le juge, le procureur, le flic, le médecin
tous font rouler depuis des années lagréable train-train de la comédie sociale faite damicaux échanges. Cest curieux, même la Grande Guerre ne semble pas avoir bousculé les positions et les habitudes de chacun. Tout reste bien en place dans limmuable tranquillité de la bourgeoisie sûre delle-même. Pourtant tout bascule lorsquune fillette de 10 ans est retrouvée morte dans leau. La petite Belle-de-jour, comme on lappelle. Tous la connaissent, elle servait au Rébillon, la seule brasserie restaurant du coin. "Bien, bien, bien
" reprend le juge, tout content davoir un meurtre, un vrai à se mettre sous la dent, un meurtre denfant en plus, et de petite fille pour couronner le tout. Dès lors, le soupçon gagne et rogne les âmes grises de nos notables. En premier lieu le procureur qui habite au château, juste à côté du lieu du meurtre
Philippe Claudel possède un grand talent de conteur. Auteur de plusieurs romans, de récits, de chroniques, de nouvelles, il sait imposer demblée un ton particulier, soit une forme assez conventionnelle et classique de la composition mêlée à une plongée psychologique subtile et noire dans le fond de chaque être. --Denis Gombert --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Les Ames grises (Prix Renaudot 2003, consacré meilleur livre de l'année 2003 par le magazine Lire, Grand Prix des lectrices de Elle catégorie roman) a été traduit dans vingt-cinq pays.
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Top Customer Reviews
The events that continue to disturb the nameless narrator of LES AMES GRISES take place in a small town in northern France during World War I, in a region so close to the frontline, that the sounds of war provide a constant rumbling background. In the early days in 1914, town life follows its usual course and the war, assumed to be short lived, does not seem to concern the townspeople too much. The passing soldiers add good business for some and brings much needed work for others. As the narration touches on events later in time, Claudel convincingly evokes the impact on the town of the steadily growing viciousness of war: the hospital fills with wounded and near-dead and starving, exhausted, brutalized soldiers roam the countryside.
However, it is the murder in 1917 of a beautiful ten-year-old girl, Belle de jour, that disrupts the still prevailing attitude of complacency among the important "gentlemen". The "Case", as it is introduced early on by the narrator, raises questions that dig much deeper into the society's fabric than a simple police procedural would be able to explore.Read more ›
I read this because I was blown away by Claudel's most recent novel, LE RAPPORT DE BRODECK. Indeed the two books are superficially similar. Both take place in wartime (BRODECK around WW2, ÂMES GRISES in WW1). Both are set in isolated villages in Northern France, whose petty local hierarchies are mercilessly laid bare. Both are first-person accounts by lonely men suffering a personal loss. But this is a much more difficult novel for a non-native reader, being full of colloquialisms, non-standard syntax, and unusual vocabulary. It is Claudel's intention, I think, to immerse the reader in the small Lorraine community and the flawed souls of its people. Unlike BRODECK, which turned outward, using the village to cast light on the mentality of the Holocaust, LES ÂMES GRISES turns its back on the war to probe the innermost recesses of the soul.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Until the very end, the author manages to capture the reader's intrerest and there is indeed no clues as to who has committed the crime. I will certainly not waste the reader's surprise.
Central to the story, however, is the murder of a beautiful ten-year-old girl, Belle de jour, that disrupts the still prevailing attitude of complacency among the representatives of the town's establishment. The "Affaire "- Case, as it is introduced early on, raises questions that dig much deeper into the society's fabric than a simple police procedural would be able to do. In his recounting of the events surrounding Belle's death, the protagonist appears to hold his own investigation by introducing, one by one, many of the ghosts, whose long shadows still haunt him into the present. What may have been his role at the time? Through a "parade" of richly drawn characters, who had been either directly, indirectly or possibly involved with the young girl's life or the Case, Claudel weaves a captivating, subtly structured web of evidence, rumours, suspicions, interrogations and deliberate disregard of clues. From the judge, the prosecutor, the father of the victim, to police officers and military, to other important persons in the town and even in the protagonist's own life, all the brilliantly brought to life as individuals with their strengths and weaknesses.
The narrator's account is seemingly written in separate memory blocks (chapters), thus justifying the non-linear structure of his report. The reader's attention is constantly required to pick up clues and connections that will reveal much more than the reader would expect at any one time. The conclusion is dramatic and comes with more than one unexpected punch. An extraordinary and powerful novel that will linger on in the reader for a long time. [Friederike Knabe]