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"Texier has an unsparing sense of ethical complexity, the partial satisfaction that must suffice for a person torn between irreconcilable desires and responsibilities. Clearly, that's better than drowning, overdosing, or choking to death, but as Victorine learns, it takes more stamina to endure." Ron Charles, Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
Synopses & Reviews
In this lush, lyrical, and marvelously evocative novel, Catherine Texier takes a mystery from her family’s past and draws from it a portrait of a remarkable woman — her great-grandmother Victorine. A young schoolteacher in a quiet province in France, Victorine had married and had two children. But when she falls desperately in love, she makes a startling choice, leaving her family for her lover and a new life in Indochina.
On a single day in 1940, as Victorine reflects on her past, we travel back with her, from the willow-lined canals of her childhood home in Vendée to sun-drenched days and languorous nights along the Mekong River at the dawn of the twentieth century. Hers is an unforgettable story of adventure and self-discovery — of a woman’s struggle between duty and independence, tradition and freedom, longing and regret.
"Texier, author of the 1998 memoir Breakup and three previous novels (Panic Blood, etc.), spins a steely, delicate fictional tale of unaccounted-for years in the life of her own great-grandmother, Victorine, who was rumored to have run off with a customs officer in the late 1890s, leaving behind her husband and two children in Vendée, France. Victorine first met Antoine when she was 16; she was soon to become the youngest teacher in France, and he was intent on venturing to one of the French colonies. As Victorine settles into her work, she meets dark-eyed fellow teacher Armand Texier and pushes Antoine into the recesses of her memory. She and Armand marry in a hurry when Victorine becomes pregnant, but years later, Victorine meets Antoine again and plans rendezvous with him, feeling a 'shameful pleasure at the idea that her secret evened out the power' between herself and her womanizing husband. After some deliberation, Victorine agrees to leave her family to move to Indochina with Antoine, where he guarantees to 'show [her] a world that [she] will fall in love with.' She leaves without confronting her husband or children, and immediately begins to feel regret. As she wrestles with the prospect of contacting her sister, who also lives in Indochina, or even her family back in Vendée, Victorine remains entrenched in a 'split reality' where she must convince herself that the present can, in fact, always be reinvented. Texier offers seamless transitions between the past and present, and even the future as an older Victorine reflects upon her days in the Mekong Delta. Lurking questions of empire and expansion lend an extra dimension to this bittersweet romance, reminiscent both of Madame Bovary and Duras's The Lover, making plain the temptations and risks of expanding beyond one's borders. Agent, Joy Harris. (Apr. 20) Forecast: Texier is best known for her memoir of her breakup with her husband, with whom she co-edited the literary magazine Between C & D. This book should reach a broader readership than her previous novels, and give her a fresh start in the fiction arena." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“A lovely and original novel that transported me to another time and place. A tantalizing mix of fact and fantasy: the author inhabits her great-grandmother’s soul.” Laura Shaine Cunningham, author of Sleeping Arrangments and Dreams of Rescue
“I was so impressed by Victorine. Yes, it’s love again, but such a candid view of it and in such an original voice. It’s a haunting and remarkable read.” Joanna Trollope, author of Other People’s Children
“In Victorine, Texier susses a family secret using all the tools of a dauntless novelist. A surprising and stunning book.” Patricia Volk, author of Stuffed
A young school teacher in a quiet province on the Atlantic coast of France, Victorine commits a mother's ultimate sin: she leaves her family for her lover and goes with him to begin a new life in Indochina.
In an extraordinary novel — lush, lyrical, deeply romantic — Catherine Texier takes the "might haves" and draws a vivid portrait of a remarkable woman who falls desperately in love, and for that love commits a mother's ultimate sin. She leaves her family for her lover and goes with him to begin a new life in Indochina. On a single day in 1940, as Nazi police patrol the seaside town where she will spend her last years, Victorine reflects on her past. We travel back with her, from the willow-lined canals of her childhood home to sun-drenched days and languorous nights along the Mekong River at the dawn of the twentieth century. Hers is an unforgettable story of adventure and self-discovery — of a woman's struggle between duty and independence, tradition and freedom, longing and regret.
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