“Couldn't put this one down.”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It
“I only got about half way through this book before I decided to stop reading. I lost interest in this story as it continued to become less about pre-WWII Paris and more about the very strange relationship between the women characters.”see full review » see other reviews »
“I only got about half way through this book before I decided to stop reading. I lost interest in this story as it continued to become less about pre-WWII Paris and more about the very strange relationship between the women characters. ”Shelly W wrote this review 7 days ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Couldn't put this one down.”Amy wrote this review Monday, March 18, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This book was not what I thought it was going to be at all. That being said, I did enjoy it & really enjoyed the twists & turns the plot gave. I thought it was a little difficult to read the whole story given to Camille by Louis because there was little or no breaks in the story, but other than that I found it very interesting.”Samantha wrote this review Tuesday, February 19, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“When I get a review request in my email inbox for a historical fiction novel with an appealing cover, I just cannot say no. The Confidant, set in Paris, as you can tell from the cover with the ubiquitous Eiffel Tower background, also takes place partially during the WWII era. Basically, I was all kinds of sold. What I love about fiction set in that era is how much variety there is, how much ground to be covered, and, yet again, I found myself in a book very different from any I'd previously encountered. The Confidant is a strange, oddly powerful little book.
The novel opens on Camille, who, in her mid-thirties, has just become pregnant by her boyfriend and whose mother has just died. These facts matter only in how they affect her mental state at the time of receiving the letters. After bereavement, people send letters, sharing stories, offering condolences, etc. Camille receives a thicker, unsigned letter, and opens it, curious to discover what it contains. Inside, she finds a story, one that seems to have little to do with her. The letters keep coming, always unsigned and always conveying a bit more of the story. This narrative device ensnared my curiosity, much as it did Camille's. What happened to the people in these letters? Were they delivered to Camille by mistake?
While the bulk of the novel does take place during WWII, I will say that the war serves solely as a backdrop or a sort of catalyst to the drama of the piece. In fact, this story could have happened in another time or another place. It's a story of a woman and a girl, one desperate to fulfill what she sees as her duty and the other trying to find herself.
The main theme of The Confidant centers around childbirth. Obviously, this isn't a topic of much interest to me ordinarily, but the treatment here really made me think. Madame M desperately wants children, but, despite years of trying, she and her husband have yet to conceive. Constantly bombarded by war propaganda urging the importance of procreation to the continued health of France, Madame M feels guilty and like a failure. Her desperation drives her to try every single rumored cure for infertility, and goodness gracious but it was horrifying. The things women have been asked to do throughout history boggle my mind and sadden me deeply.
The tale told within these pages surprised me in its sordidness and darkness. Honestly, I expected something much lighter. However, The Confidant turned out to be a tale of sex and betrayal. While I didn't connect with any of the characters on a personal level, I could not help being caught up in their drama and the desire to discover just how the past had become Camille's present and where everyone ended up.
Sadly, though, I think this novel could have been formatted much better, as it was rather confusing. There are no chapter headings or indications that you're switching from one narrative to another, besides, sometimes, a change in font. Camille's narrative is an awful sans serif font. Then, without warning, the novel switches to Louis' letter. This, at least, had the benefit of being in a different font, but there was no transition at all, so it was jarring. More troublesome was the switch to Annie's perspective, which had no distinguishable difference from Louis'. I read several pages before I finally figured out what was going on. Once I knew what to expect, I didn't have any problems, but this really could have been handled better.
Grémillon has a poetic sort of writing style, which, while not entirely unpleasant to me, simply was not a style that has particular appeal to me. The phrasing was occasionally quite strange, and reads perhaps more like free verse than prose perhaps, though it could also be a result of an awkward translation from French. Grémillon even ends the novel with a poem, which definitely went rather over my head. I've been trying to do better, but I still have difficulty appreciating poetry.
For those of a poetic persuasion with an interest in women's issues and history, Grémillon's debut is a must-read. Though it did not end up being precisely my kind of book, I can recommend it highly as a quality read for a slightly different style of reader.”
“loved this!”Wendi Dusseault wrote this review Saturday, December 8, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The Confidant by Helene Gremillon was a very interesting read. I have to admit that I was a little confused at first as I began reading but quickly the plot came together and I found myself enjoying this story immensely.
It is the story of a young woman whose mother has passed away. She is in the process of selling her parents’ home and getting closure on her life. During this process, she finds herself the recipient of several strange letters. Each week she received a letter telling a story that unfolds to be more than just a story. It becomes something very real.
Camille reads of how a young girl agrees to be a surrogate mother for a wealthy woman in pre-war France. It begins so straightforward but soon all parties involved find out that nothing is as simple as life. Each one finds there is more to it than anything they imagined.
This is a very powerful story that is extremely well written. I found myself not wanting to put it down. I had to know who was sending the letters and why. The plot was not straight forward. There were twists and turns all the way through it until the very last sentence that took my breath away.
There are graphic descriptions within the book as detailed are revealed to Camille of intimate encounters. They are not many present. Just a few that take up a couple of pages. It is a translation from the original book that was written in French a few decades ago.
This is a great book for a book club and one that you will enjoy having in your library. If you want something more than the run of the mill book, this is one you should have. I highly recommend it for your summer reading list.
Note: This book was provided by the publisher without expectation of a positive review.