“You have given a sense of happiness to someone who rarely savored it.”
– Daniel Pennac
Just Before opens with the voice of thirty year-old Fanny, the youngest of four generations of women. She is by her great-grandmother’s side, watching over her in her last hours.
In alternating voices, Fanny and her great-grandmother tell their stories. A novel of love and longing, Just Before captures the story of these four women, and through the glimpses into their worlds, that of a century.
From Paris and the South of France, through Rajasthan and the Indian desert, the women evoke memories of romance on the riverbanks of the Seine, of facing the sudden loss of a husband in a concentration camp, of the Champs Elysées on Liberation Day, of seeking freedom from the constraints of marriage.
These strong and inspiring women each reveal how they faced the unknown. Moving and bittersweet, Just Before is a novel for mothers, daughters, and generations to come.
Praise for Just Before:
“A delicate and moving first novel, marked by tremendous freedom, joy and insight. Saintenoy displays panache and balance, steering clear of easy tricks and sentimentalism — this blend makes the strength of this book.” – Josyane Savigneau, Le Monde
“A novel full of emotion, which stays with the reader for a long time. A true gem!”- Lire
“This profound novel charms the reader by its straightforward simplicity.” – Elle
“In her debut novel, Fanny Saintenoy writes with a profound lightness and elegant simplicity.”- L’Express Style Magazine
“In Just Before, Fanny Saintenoy interweaves the portraits of a young woman with that of her great-grandmother in a sharp and honest way.”- Le Magazine Littéraire
“A moving novel. We truly identify with the story, which brings to mind our own stories and childhood memories.”- femme actuelle.fr
“A truthful, subtle, at times humorous novel.”- Sud Ouest
“Through to the end of this moving interwoven portrait [of two women], Fanny Saintenoy excels in mastering simplicity, spices up the narrative with a mix of humor and poetry, and creates emotion without artifice.”- Page des Libraires
“Joy wins out on the difficulties of life and death. [Just Before] is a poetic, funny, and charming read.”- Ouest France
“In the words of Daniel Pennac, the novel’s encouraging ‘godfather’, Just Before is filled with a ‘strange joy’. Perhaps this is because this short tale grows from the same source as life itself. You’ll read it in one sitting.”- Le Pèlerin