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The Confidant: A Novel Paperback – October 30, 2012
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“The Confidant is an impressive blend of historical precision, high suspense and sharp-sighted psychological truths. A gorgeous, captivating novel with brilliant storytelling. It’s a novel that will stay with me.” — Amanda Hodgkinson, New York Times bestselling author of 22 Britannia Road
“Captivating and haunting, the passion and heartache absolutely leap off the page in Hélène Grémillon’s The Confidant . The first thing you’ll want to do after finishing, is to flip to the first chapter and start reading it all over again, combing for overlooked clues.” — Sarah Jio, author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March
“Succumb to a very French story and allow yourself to be seduced by Hélène Grémillon’s serpentine tale of wartime passion and revenge. As the past intensifies its grip on a young woman’s present, shifting perspectives exert an irresistible pull. Direct, unsettling and atmospheric.” — Deborah Lawrenson, author of The Lantern
“Helene Gremillon tells her heartrending tale of human frailty, cruelty and love in prose of subtle elegance, and her flawed, fascinating characters stayed with me long after I’d finished the book. This is poised and beautiful storytelling.” — Margaret Leroy, author of The Soldier's Wife
“The Confidant is a must read for anyone who loves intrigue. It will keep you guessing until the very last page - beautifully written, original and thoroughly engaging.” — Sandra Smith, translator of Suite Française
“A beautiful, intricate book, The Confidant is held together with delicate threads and secrets. I scarcely know how to review it without inadvertently giving one away. It’s a story of enduring emotions—love, jealousy, revenge—and the lengths that we will go to in their name. A love story, a thriller, a war novel, The Confidant is hard to put down. And, when you do, you’ll want to flip back to the beginning and read again to see what clues you may have missed the first time. This gripping little story with its flawed, yet memorable characters is highly recommended.” An Editor's Choice pick, February 2013
— Historical Novels Review
"Hélène Grémillon takes us to the heart of a family secret. We witness undeclared love, hidden hatreds, and revenge with terrible consequences. She writes of two periods in time in two voices. And we are twice as caught up in this book which truly touches our hearts." — ELLE (France)
"The reader is literally riveted to this story, both thriller and historical account. The text has accents of maturity, a stunning mastery of narration, a sense of suspense worthy of a top-notch film. A gripping first novel." — Le Figaro Litteraire
"Hélène Grémillon: remember this name! Scrupulously written, with fine and harmonious phrasing that renders the heroines' voices perfectly." — Le Point
"Hélène Grémillon's talent bursts forth in this first novel, as much for the style as the historical details and the suspense that persists up to the very last paragraph. As for the main characters... they are all complex, unpredictable and above all charismatic." — Le Nouvel Observateur
“This most assured first novel is structured like a series of matryoshka dolls; as we start reading, stories within stories are revealed until we are finally faced with the gem at the centre. Grémillon’s conclusion to what is both mystery story and romance is an absolute crackerjack.” — The Saturday Age (Australia)
“Sensitively written, it is a suspenseful, absorbing tale about the power of history and how it plays on the present.” — Herald on Sunday (Australia)
“A truly compelling read.” — Grazia (Australia)
“A novel about the complicity between history with a small ‘h’ — the characters’ stories—and History with a capital ‘H.’ As in Bernard Schlink’s The Reader, nothing is more moving than to witness characters as castaways shipwrecked by History.” — BSC News (France)
“Step back in time with this intriguing French mystery... Grémillon expertly builds the psychological suspense.” — Courier Mail (Australia)
“The cinematic rhythm is thrilling. A triumph.” — Paris Match Belgium (France)
About the Author
Hélène Grémillon was born in France in 1977. She has degrees in literature and history and has worked as a journalist at the French newspaper, Le Figaro, before becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Paris with her partner, singer and songwriter Julien Clerc, and their child. She received The Prince Pierre Literary Prize for The Confidant, her first novel.
Top customer reviews
The backdrop of WWII in France, seems almost unrelated to the story. It's just there. Elisabeth's suicide upon learning that her daughter is pregnant makes no sense. And what bothers me the most is that the woman who basically was evil got away with it.
It's a very good first novel, but I would not rush to buy it.
Camille Warner is in publishing, pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and sorting through condolences from her mother’s death. One letter, much thicker than the rest, stands out not only for its size, but its lack of either salutation or signature and seems to be part of a story. As more segments arrive, Camille is curious, thinking perhaps it’s an author looking to be published, then intrigued as the characters begin to be identified. As the story evolves, Camille realizes just how personal the story is.
In the beginning, it’s not easy to identify which narrator is speaking when. Usually, I find this highly annoying. I don’t, however, believe the story really would not have worked any other way. I also realized that, after only a few pages, I was so immersed in the story, I didn’t mind. In the beginning, there were a few portents—always a major flaw in my view—but even those, I forgive.
The author’s/character’s voice, with the help of her translator, immediately drew me in. Her writing is punctuated with small truths that are both illuminating and disturbing…”As the curtain fluttered closed I thought of how once the last survivor of a family is dead, there is no one left to receive letters of condolence.” and “It is not other people who inflict the worse disappointments, but the shock between reality and the extravagance of our imagination.”
I shan’t tell you any more about the characters beyond my summary above. Learning who they are, reading their stories as they unfold and learning how the relationships intertwine is all integral to the plot itself. It should not be spoiled.
The story is set in two time periods; the 1975 present and the years before WWII. I appreciated learning of the milestones in history leading up to the war and seeing the European—in this case French—perspective of events. In some ways, the notions as to how women conceive and remedies for infertility were more disturbing as they were more immediate to the story.
This is a story within a story, within a story, within a story. I was drawn in immediately and kept turning the pages to the very end. Whatever you do, DO NOT cheat and read the ending, particularly the poem, until you reach it in its proper time.
“The Confidant” is a very compelling book I do highly recommend reading.
THE CONFIDANT (Novel-Camille-France-Contemp/1940s) - Ex
Gremillon, Helen – Alison Anderson, Translator - Standalone
Penguin Books, 2012
Most recent customer reviews
The story is set in wartime Paris, and is a story within a story told from multiple characters' points of view.Read more
The Confidant is a story within a story. Camille Werner, a publisher’s reader, receives a long unsigned letter from an...Read more
I stayed with it and enjoyed the intricacies of the plot.Read more