This is Diana’s story. The story of a young, brilliant woman who grows up without maternal affection. It is the story of Diana’s relationships with other women: her best friend, the sweet Elisabeth; her mentor, the selfish Olivia; her sister, the beloved Célia; and, of course, her mother. It is a story about the baser sentiments that often animate human relations: rivalry, jealousy, distrust.I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a writer adapt her writing style to match a character before. When she is writing the early story of Diane as a baby/young child her writing is beautifully simplistic and feels like it could be written by a child but as the character gets older so does the prose. Its astonishing! It moved me to tears in places and wreaks havoc with your emotions but its ultimately an uplifting read and well worth it. There are some fairly unpleasant characters here who never get our sympathy and some you just want to scream at. Diane herself is someone who seems at times to be too good to be true and something of a superwoman in her daily life but I can see why she is like that and Nothomb treats us to some gorgeously unredemptive characters. I read this over the course of one day and hated having to put it down for anything. Its not a long book at just over 130 pages but she packs so much into it. She doesn’t waste a single word that’s not needed and whilst the story towards the end got a lot more complicated at times it didn’t put me off and I couldn’t go to bed until I’d finished it. I’m glad to see Amelie Nothomb has a large back catalogue of books I can look forward to diving into sometime in the future.
I was kindly sent an Autumn/Winter catalogue by Europa Editions to look through and I chose this book, mainly for its fascinating synopsis but also its very striking cover. So a huge thank you to Europa for sending me a copy of this and for enabling me to discover a new favourite author. This book is about love; too much love, not enough love, misguided love and about the relationship between mothers and daughters, between female friends and families in general.