The Book of Mother

Fugitive parce que reine

Violaine Huisman

250 pages January 2018 French copies available Original publisher: GallimardLiterary Fiction

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.

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 hospitalized 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 boundaries soon turn their home into an emotional landmine. As the story of Catherine’s own traumatic childhood and adolescence 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.

A prize-winning tour de force when it was published in France, The Book of Mother is a stunningly 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.


“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

“The most stunning book of this spring.” — France 2

“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

“A poignant autobiographical first novel…a strikingly beautiful work.”— RTL

“A magnificent ode. Her prose abounds with literary force.” — Le Point

“A coup de coeur…A magnificent portrait.” — France Inter

“Hypnotic and searching.” — La Vie

“An intelligent, rich debut.” — Liberation

“An emphatically gripping debut.” — Livres Hebdo