24 June 2012

Secretly pleased

Tatiana de Rosnay's name appeared on my to-read list. I don't know how, but it was probably because somebody recommended her best seller, Sarah's Key. When we stopped at the Amery (WI) library on the way to Sidetrack, I didn't find Sarah's Key, but I did find de Rosnay's newer book, A Secret Kept.

I really liked reading this book.

de Rosnay grew up in the US and the UK (her degree from the University of East Anglia was in English literature) and lives in Paris. There's no translator listed in the book, so I assume that de Rosnay translated her French book, Boomerang, herself. The language is very American and very descriptive. In fact, her descriptions -- of people, emotions, clothing, rooms, houses, and Parisian neighborhoods are very suggestive. They often brought realistic images to my mind. In fact, de Rosnay's adeptness in describing relationships is part of what makes this novel work:
I see Pauline appear over her [his daughter's] shoulder. Her best friend since they were small. Except that Pauline now looks like a twenty-year-old. A minute ago she was a scraggy little thing. Now it is impossible not to notice her full bosom and womanly hips. I don't hug her they way I used to when she was a kid. In fact, I don't even kiss her on the cheek. We sort of wave at each other from a polite distance.
The story in the book is about family and family secrets. The narrator is a forty-something son of an old, rich Parisian family. His sister is important as are his children and some of their friends. But the story is really about a huge family secret involving the narrator's mother, who died 30 years before the setting of the story, and about the hard work required for a group of people to be family.

de Rosnay theatrically weaves the stories of past and present, of generations and places, of habits and family "rules" into a book I didn't want to put down and didn't want to end. Every character in the stories is respected by de Rosnay, even the ones I didn't think deserved it. Neither suffering nor happiness was denied characters. In the end, that made the book better. So did the fact that not every loose end was tied up and not every story was complete when the book ended. If this were a television soap opera, there would be many story lines to follow in the future.

The book jacket says that de Rosnay has written ten novels. Only two have been published in the USA. There are probably more novels to come to America. I will look for Sarah's Key and for future books with Tatiana de Rosnay's name on the covers.

Have you read A Secret Kept? Tell this little bit of the world what you thought of it by sending us a note.

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