Grand Prix de l’Héroïne “Madame Figaro” 2022: five new books in competition unveiled

“The Definition of Happiness” by Catherine Cusset

Clarisse and Eve were born nine months apart in 1963 in Paris. Eve lives wisely in New York with her family, Clarisse more whimsical lives in Paris, she loves her three sons and travels. The novel crosses the time, there are the catastrophes of the world, the intimate tsunamis and the small pleasures of the day. An endearing and sensitive mirror novel about the fate of two heroines that we would like to have as friends. Editions Gallimard, 352 pages, €20.

The chronicle of Bernard Babkine:

Clarisse and Ève were born nine months apart, in 1963, in Paris. Each on her side will weave her web, each in her own way will seek the definition of happiness, and even happiness if it lets itself be caught. Ève lives wisely in New York, has a husband, two daughters and cooks as a passion. Clarisse, more whimsical, lives in Paris, she likes traveling and has three sons. We follow them with a greedy reading pleasure, from adolescence to today, so different and so close to us that we begin to love them with so much passion. The novel crosses the era, which is not stingy with major disasters, and the lives of Clarisse and Eve, which are not lacking in storms. We live with them; little by little, we will discover who is who! And in this mirror novel about two women, wonderful reflections on family, love, motherhood, friendship and the passage of time are also reflected.

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The Definition of Happiness, by Catherine Cusset, Editions Gallimard, 352 p., €20

Gallimard Editions

“Where the Happy People Lived” by Joyce Maynard

Eleanor, a successful young artist wants to turn her back on her dark past, she buys a house in New Hampshire, meets Cam, has three children… A certain taste of happiness in the middle of beautiful nature and then it’s Christmas day. storm in life, in hearts, everything changes. We follow the destiny of Eleanor from the 1970s to the present day in this tumultuous family fresco nourished by drama, betrayal, love and emotion. Editions Philippe Rey, 560 pages, €24. Translated by Florence Lévy-Paoloni.

Minh Tran Huy’s chronicle:

When Eleanor, a best-selling children’s book author, moves to a New Hampshire farmhouse, she hopes to build what her parents never gave her: a home. Her dream seems to come true in the person of handsome Cam and the births of Alison, Ursula and Toby. But that’s counting without a terrible accident… Painting a most endearing portrait of a woman, Joyce Maynard follows a family – and a nation – from the first steps on the Moon to the beginnings of #MeToo. A very beautiful novel, nostalgic but overflowing with life, evoking the heartbreaks to better speak of the learning of reconciliation, with others as with oneself.

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where the happy people lived, by Joyce Maynard, Editions Philippe Rey, 560 p., €24. Translated by Florence Lévy-Paolini.

Editions Philippe Rey

Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey

In this masterful and poignant story, the American poet and author Natasha Trethewey pays a magnificent tribute to her mother Gwendolyn who was assassinated on June 5, 1985 by her ex-husband. She honors this woman who believed so much in happiness and always encountered misfortune in this book which is also the story of a country scarred by racism. Editions de l’Olivier, 224 p., €21.50. Translated by Celine Leroy.

Minh Tran Huy’s chronicle:

Memorial Drive, Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Prize for Poetry 2007 and Poet Laureate of the United States in 2012 and 2013 – an honorary title awarded in several Anglo-Saxon countries – evokes the wounds that shaped her. The daughter of a mixed couple, the writer grew up in 1960s Mississippi, a fiercely segregated state, where her grandmother was put on file for trying to publish the banns of her parents’ marriage and where her family saw the Ku Klux Klan burn a cross in their garden. After a childhood spent literally in the shadow of Stone Mountain – the largest monument dedicated to the Confederacy, sometimes nicknamed the Mount Rushmore of the South – she was confronted with another violence, that of her stepfather, Joel, who beat her mother and ended up murdering her in 1985. For three decades, she, who believed she wanted to forget at all costs, will in fact have sought a way to get to this autobiographical story of splendid and painful beauty, where it is said that “in order to survive the trauma, you have to be able to tell it in the form of a story”.

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Memorial Drive, by Natasha Trethewey, translated from English by Céline Leroy, Éditions de l’Olivier, 224 p., €21.50.

Editions of the Olivier

“The Strata” by Penelope Bagieu

When the author of culottes speaks for itself that gives Strata, a story in black and white and in drawings. She recounts her life, her relationship with her sister in a kind of psychoanalysis told with humor, tenderness and beautiful touches of emotion. Pénélope Bagieu exposes herself with great sincerity. Editions Gallimard, 144 pages, €22.

The chronicle of Marilyne Letertre:

After Culottées and Sacrées Sorcières, the comic book author signs her first autobiographical book with Les Strates. “I caught small streams in a big river”, she says about this learning story made up of stories from her youth that she had been writing in her diaries for around ten years. years, with no intention of publishing them. She will have changed her mind at the dawn of her 40th birthday. A chance for readers who will invariably identify with his memories evoking the traumas and fantasies of adolescence, the first emotions, but also the essence of an individual and the beings who matter.


Strata, by Pénélope Bagieu, Éditions Gallimard, 144 p., €22

Gallimard Editions

“Queenie, Godmother of Harlem” by Elizabeth Colomba and Aurélie Levy

Queenie is the godmother of Harlem, it is Stéphanie St Clair born in Martinique who will become the queen of the clandestine lottery of Harlem in the interwar period. Elizabeth Colomba’s elegant, black-and-white line gives a lot of strength to the destiny of this extraordinary woman who fights in a world of men who have always known how to defend her peers against police violence. Editions Anne Carrière, 147 p., €24.90.

Colombe Schneck’s chronicle:

Why isn’t Stéphanie Saint-Clair, known as Queenie, already the heroine of a Hollywood film, whose actress playing Queenie, her face flooded with joy, raises her fist to one side, her Oscar from the ‘other ? Or cited by Barack and Michelle Obama among their favorite series? Why isn’t it a name like that of Al Capone, which frightens while arousing admiration? One would have to be able to imagine a superhero in a light silk dress, sharp on a black skin, with a charming French accent. That’s good, it’s starting to be possible. At the head of a criminal empire, Queenie was the queen of the underground lottery in Harlem, and fared better than most major mobsters of the time. She did stays in prison, of course, but ended her life in her pretty house. Little girl almost a slave on a plantation in Martinique, gifted in calculation, each stage of her life is a great episode.

Elizabeth Colomba’s black ink drawings leave room for the reader’s imagination. She leaves the page, colors herself, moves at full speed in front of you, we hear the cries, the pistol shots, the rattles of Harlem and also her music, her poetry. The adventure takes place in the midst of the Harlem Renaissance, an artistic movement which, between 1920 and 1930, by offering refuge to former slaves and their children, allowed an explosion of songs, paintings, novels… Aurélie Levy, the screenwriter, inserted this artistic scene while telling the story of a woman who is not afraid of anything, multiplying the points of view. How does an underground lottery business work? How to deal with the mafia? How to handle a corrupt policeman? Closing this graphic novel, I was ready to consider running a good business, earning more money and gaining respect, pistol in hand and pumps on my feet. In short, it’s great.

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Queenie, Godmother of Harlem, by Elizabeth Colomba and Aurélie Levy, Anne Carrière Editions, 147 p., €24.90

Editions Anne Carriere

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Grand Prix de l’Héroïne “Madame Figaro” 2022: five new books in competition unveiled