A gorgeous, critically acclaimed debut novel about a young woman coming of age with a dazzling yet damaged mother who lived and loved in extremes - in the bestselling tradition of Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle.
A prize-winning tour de force when it came out in France, Violaine Huisman's remarkable debut novel is about a daughter's inextinguishable love for her magnetic, mercurial mother. Beautiful and charismatic, Catherine, aka 'Maman', smokes too much, drives too fast, laughs too hard and loves too extravagantly. During a joyful and chaotic childhood in Paris, her daughter Violaine wouldn't have it any other way.
But when Maman is hospitalised after a third divorce and breakdown, everything changes. Even as Violaine and her sister long for their mother's return, once she's back Maman's violent mood swings and flagrant disregard for personal boundaries soon turn their home into an emotional landmine. As the story of Catherine's own traumatic childhood and coming of age unfolds, the pieces come together to form an indelible portrait of a mother as irresistible as she is impossible, as triumphant as she is transgressive.
With spectacular ferocity of language, a streak of dark humor and stunning emotional bravery, The Book of Mother is an exquisitely wrought story of a mother's dizzying heights and devastating lows, and a daughter who must hold her memory close in order to let go.
A sparkling debut. Any sadness in the telling is countered by the panache and surprise of the writing infused in these pages. Love wins out in a life of struggle - the struggle of a monarch without a kingdom - Elle (France)
Violaine Huisman unfurls memories, facts and family myths . . . it's poignant, terribly alive . . . the grit Huisman has in retelling her story, both as a young girl and as a writer, is as beautiful as it is brave . . . dignified and devastating, the book is a superb monument to a woman who spent her whole life in flight - Le Monde
Hypnotic and searching - La Vie
A magnificent ode. Her prose abounds with literary force - Le Point