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Violette's Embrace Paperback – July 1, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Michele Zackheim's debut novel is a fictional account of an American artist on the trail of the French writer, prominent lesbian, and cult heroine, Violette Leduc. Leduc was a contemporary of Simone de Beauvoir, Jean Paul Sartre, and Jean Genet. Many of the details of Leduc's life, revealed through her own novels and memoirs, are recounted in Zackheim's novel via the personage of Lili Jacobs, a fictional friend of the writer who recounts Leduc's life story to the American enthusiast. Fans of this period of French intellectual history, or those in the life of Leduc, will no doubt find the book enjoyable. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Violette Leduc is an all-but-forgotten writer whose work was enormously respected by her contemporaries, French intellectuals and writers like Sartre, Cocteau and de Beauvoir. According to Zachheim's first novel, which might more accurately be described as a fusion of creative biography and fictional autobiography, Leduc was a neurotic, possessive woman, who, for example, spent much of WWII in Paris's Cafe de Flore spying on Simone de Beauvoir, who wrote there daily. Leduc wrangles her way into the feminist's life; and into an obsessive "friendship" which for Leduc involves a great deal of hysterical crying. The narrative is told by Leduc's nameless biographer, a contemporary middle-aged woman who has gone to Paris to do research and interview one of Leduc's closest friends, Lili Jacobs. Most of the book's plot involving Leduc takes place within the past-tense brackets of Lili Jacobs's memories, as Jacobs and the biographer meet and talk in such Parisian landmarks as Les Deux Magots. The biographer, who, like Zackheim, lives in New Mexico and is a visual artist, expresses her strong empathy with Leduc's belief that "My ugliness will set me apart until I die," as well as with the writer's extraordinary vulnerability and her beautiful literary rendition of it. Overall, this is a quiet, moderately well-written book, with occasional flashes of fascinating material?such as when Leduc, after achieving critical and commercial success in the 1960s, self-consciously interviews Brigitte Bardot for Vogue. (The biographer compares this event with a childhood dinner she had with Marilyn Monroe.) But the often dry, biography-style prose never quite brings to life either the strange, fascinating Leduc or the biographer who so closely identifies with her.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 213 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade; First Edition edition (July 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573226084
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573226080
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,640,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "blissengine" on March 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
I discovered this novel after discovering Violette Leduc. I adore this book for its fleshing out of Leduc's life. It gives a lush and warm sense of her life and her version of madness, as well as the narrator's investigation into her own Jewish heritage. In some places, Zackheim's writing mirrored Leduc's. There's so little written about Leduc, which is such a tragedy.
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