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July 13, 2019


#Paris In July Retour à Killybegs

by N@ncy

Author: S. Chaladon
Title: Return to Killybegs
Published: 2011
Language: I read it in French…but it is available in English.



Trivia:   Awarded the Grand prix du roman de l’Académie française 2011.
Le Grand Prix du Roman is a French literary award, created in 1918, and given each year by the Académie française. Along with the Prix Goncourt, it is one of the oldest and most prestigious literary awards in France.



Return to Killybegs is a novel about a traitor to Belfast’s Catholic community
during the war in 1970s and 1980s in Northern Ireland.
The narrative is inspired by the 2006 murder of Denis Donaldson.
He was a senior Sinn Féin member who was revealed as a British secret agent.
Chalandon had befriended Donaldson while working as a journalist in Belfast.
Chalandon attempts to understand the reasons for
Donaldson’s (character: Tyrone Meehan) betrayal of the IRA.
Perhaps Chalandon wanted to give his friend a chance to explain his side of the story.


24 December 2006 – 04 April 2007 (narrator is now 81 years old)
” I have often returned to my father’s house
…but I came here four days ago… die.”

Best chapters – 18, 21, 22, 23 (suspense)


The writing is remarkable, compact and to the point.
Chalandon manages a journalistic style
yet breathes life into characters that leave the reader riveted.
Suspense builds while Chalandon alternates the past with the present.
Past: childhood, WWII, entrance into IRA, prison sentences and contre-espionage
Present: visit 2006 in Belfast for a wedding and confrontation with ex-IRA members
Despite the cease-fire, peace negations, destroyed arms caches
…the IRA is still there.

Read more from French, Paris In July
9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jul 13 2019

    My Paris in July reading has been put on hold to finish my indigenous books for NAIDOC & indigenous literature week. But I hope to get stuck in for the second half of the month.
    Well done for reading more in French again. You’re an inspiration!


    • Jul 13 2019

      I haven’t read much French this year….so I need to catch up.
      Having another ‘reading slump’ but must try to rally.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jul 13 2019

    It’s so interesting to learn about a book from a French person but about another culture than France — we learn about so many that are by English-American-other English speaking people but are set in France.



  3. Reese Warner
    Jul 15 2019



  4. Reese Warner
    Jul 15 2019

    Let’s try that again (since I managed to hit control-c instead of command-c): this sounds fascinating. It’s is a novel (?) but it looks like it hews pretty close to historical events?


    • Jul 15 2019

      …historical fiction, I think that best describes it.
      Chalandon was journalist in Belfast and used many of his notes.
      Another book he wrote is very good..based on his time in Lebanon Civil War 1980s
      “Le Quatrième Mur (available in english)….it won Prix Goncourt des Lycéens 2013.



Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. #TBR Plan of Action – Paris in July 2019 | NancyElin
  2. Paris in July 2019 | NancyElin

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