PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
The Bérynxes are a middle-class family. Charlam, the grandfather, who wants to take control after the death of his son, Georges, in a road accident; Sabine, his daughter-in-law, who mutely but successfully wards off his encroachment. The three sons, who seem relatively unaffected by the loss of their father and who make their own way in life, sometimes to Charlam’s approval, sometimes to his disapproval. Marie, the daughter, whose leg was damaged in the accident rebels against his authority. Édith, the aunt, whose undiscovered secret is her passion for her nephew, Georges; and Pierre, whom Sabine chances to encounter; Mr Loyalty, the man she can rely on in her business and who becomes a kind of honorary uncle to the children, much to the disgust of Charlam complete the family group..
But that is merely the surface. What gives this novel its special flavour are the things unseen, the magma of hopes, desires, fantasies, memories, humiliations, passions and hatreds bubbling beneath the surface of all their lives, which Sylvie Germain evokes with the poetic intensity that distinguishes her novels.