EXCERPT: … (she) had supposed that Hugo’s funeral would take place in a church, none in particular, but behind some blameless edifice of North London, perhaps even beautiful.
Margaret had served the funeral arrangements up as a fait accompli, had completed her message on Ella’s voice-mail with the phrase, ‘It’s at the Mount Vernon crematorium, if you want to come,’ thus rendering her an intruder, an outsider at her own father’s funeral, uncertain of her status, like an au pair on the scene of a family tragedy.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: At 35 years old, Ella is no longer excited by her academic career in France and has not found love. Following the unexpected death of her father, she is thrown into crisis, but then she meets the enigmatic Max. Over the course of a summer, their romance deepens—until she makes a discovery that throws everything off course. As Ella’s life becomes bound up with the stories of two other Englishwomen in France, she finds the freedom to tread an unconventional path and to love in her own way. This rich and complex work examines the effects on children of parents in fraught and painful relationships; the fragility of identity; and the ways love can heal.
MY THOUGHTS: L’Anglaise is a quietly brilliant book. Mundler’s writing is awkward in some places, deliberate I think as it complements Ella’s awkwardness with her own life. For although she is outwardly successful, she is not ‘comfortable’, not in her professional nor private lives, and certainly not with her family. If you have ever felt that you were the only person not issued with a rule book at the outset of life, then you will relate to Ella.
In other places, Mundler’s writing is gentle, touching, surprisingly perceptive. Thesetwo writing styles, artistically combined, produce an engaging and absorbing read. There were several times, as I was reading, that I wondered if this might be a memoir, slightly auto-biographical. Still I wonder.
L’Anglaise is a read that must not be rushed. It was a read that often made me stop and think, to recall moments in my own life and to view them from a different angle.
THE AUTHOR: Helen E. Mundler is an associate professor. She is the author of Homesickness, as well as two critical works, Intertextualité dans l’oeuvre d’A.S.Byatt and The Otherworlds of Liz Jensen: a Critical Reading. She lives in Paris.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Holland House via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of L’Anglaise by Helen E. Mundler for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2323364566