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July 21, 2021


#Paris In July Laclavetine

by N@ncy

Author: Jean-Marie Laclavetine
Genre: memoir
Title: Une amie de la famille
Published: 2019
Table of Contents: 222 pages



  • I discovered this book while searching the list of French literary prizes.
  • Laclavetine wrote Un amie de la famille fifty years after his sister Annie’s death.
  • He decided to reveal his heartbreak…
  • about the memory of one who is no longer spoken about.
  • Years after the accident when Annie’s parents saw a
  • a photo found in a shoebox….told their youngest son
  • who was 6 when his sister died that
  • it was “une amie de la famille”…never admitting their loss.


  • 30% of this book is a revelation of the strong love
  • between the author’s parents through letters found in the attic.
  • 30 % is about Laclavetine’s sister Annie (20 yr)
  • who died in an accident.
  • The most striking part of the
  • book is the moment Laclavetine receives his sister’s
  • letters that she wrote to her boyfriend a year before she died.
  • We discover a very troubled soul….that she kept hidden.
  • 40% is about the author’s thoughts feelings of trauma
  • that haunted his the rest of his life.
  • Quest: discover if the images the author remembers
  • of Annie and the accident correlate with reality.

Last thoughts:

  • This is a book full of reminiscences, reflexions and encounters
  • not a funeral monument for Annie…“une amie de la famille.”
  • Laclavetine leads us where memories live…in the depths of his childhood.
  • This is a very touching book but it just is not a great book.
  • In fact, I felt the book was more about the author than his sister.
  • Quote: Death made me what I am.
  • Weak point: I missed a feeling of deep loss with dignity.
  • It all centered around the author’s need to set the record straight
  • …and write a book!
  • By the way….he wrote a follow up this year
  • ….again squeezing yet another book out of Annie’s life.
  • #À éviter…vous gagnerez du temp
  • Avoid….and save your time!

Last thoughts:

  • Une amie de la famille reminds me of other books
  • in which the authors take the reader on a journey
  • about why they wrote their very personal books:
  • Retour à KillybegsS. Chalandon (The Troubles in Northern Ireland)
  • Available in english: Return to Killybegs
  • Le LambeauP Lançon (attack on Charlie Hebdo writers)
  • Available in english: Surviving Charlie Hebdo
  • This genre seems to capture the reader’s imagination.
  • Recommendation? leave Une amie de la famille on the shelf and open
  • Delphine de Vigan’s book Rien ne s’oppose à la nuit.
  • It is a stunning book about her mother – daughter relationship.
  • Available in english Nothing Holds Back the Night.

Read more from Uncategorized
8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jul 21 2021

    I’ve just finished Nothing Holds Back the Night – and yes it is stunning!
    Thank you so much foe the recommendation.


    • Jul 21 2021

      Oh, Brenda…I think I will re-read it!
      The mother-daughter dynamic never fails to amaze me.
      Whether there is tension or not between M-D…I can
      always find something I can relate to!
      I just love the way De Vigan writes.
      Reading so much French this month…and so glad
      I haven’t forgotten my vocabulary…having read no French for a year!
      It’s like riding a bike now…
      Discovered Flaubert was born 100 years ago and I will
      try to read Salammbô (1862) this month or in August.
      It is a pleasant change of scenery for Flaubert…out
      of the Belle Epoque into Carthage Egypt 264-241 AD.
      Flaubert did extensive research in 1858 to make sure he
      got everything (“…costumes, usages, climats, mœurs”) right!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jul 21 2021

    This sounds like it has potential but what I think I loved most about the post is your thoughtful collection of comments and last thoughts, that really puts it all in perspective.


    • Jul 21 2021

      Thanks so much for your kind words.
      I hope my reading adventures in some modern French writing
      can offer you some books you might never have heard of.
      I add “available in English” to indicate perhaps the book in in your local library.
      If not…than it is always good to support book shoppes in the area.


  3. thecontentreader
    Jul 21 2021

    Sounds like a very interesting story although very sad.


    • Jul 21 2021

      Grief is a cruel kind of education. You learn how ungentle mourning can be, how full of anger.
      (Chimamanda Adichie).


  4. Jul 22 2021

    You review literature in a way that makes it accessible in a deep way. thank you. I dont pick up books, or watch movies, where grief and trauma are central themes – probably as life is full of these experiences and I like to be read of other experiences. But there’s is so much to learn from how others view the everyday mements in life.


    • Jul 23 2021

      I feel the same way…grief is so universal and I try not to delve into it.
      But sometimes there are books that do help. This in not one of them.
      I think the new book by Chimamanda Adichie “Notes on Grief” about the
      death of her father June 2020 will be one of those books that will
      express profound thought and with what I mentioned
      ” ..deep loss with a sense of dignity.” Thank for stopping by and
      leaving your comments.



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