Camille in October
‘My father is dead, I just killed him.’
Camille struggles to figure out who she is and where she fits in the world. She is a young lesbian woman coming of age in a coastal, working-class neighbourhood in 1950s France. Her mother holds the family together. Her father, a war veteran, is largely silent except when his inner rage erupts in violence. Her sister, Ariane, provides comic relief, while her brother, Abel, a construction worker, is a lost soul who suffers from severe seizures. Camille herself can usually be found curled up with a book taking it all in. But an intellectual and sexual relationship with her dentist’s wife opens a world of new possibilities to Camille. Where will this lead her? Suicide, murder, accidental death—all are possible in this unconventional narrative. As a young adult, Camille is not always the most reliable narrator, but she is one that charms with her intelligence, her lack of pretention and her strong sense of connection to her roots. With her, we readers embark on a fundamental—and universal—quest to balance where we come from with who we need to become.
‘Camille in October shows [Best's] exquisite sense of timing and her sure-handed nudging of plot and tuning of tone. She is never in a rush; the pace is attuned to the expressive needs of Camille’s mind. Stephanie Schechner, the translator, renders it all with a lively sensitivity. The novel also offers oblique illuminations of Best’s sense of herself as a writer and observer.’—Ron Slate, On the Seawall
‘Throughout this entrancing and disturbing novel, there is a continual sense of oscillation: a movement from a concrete, secure space, to an unfettered, uncertain realm, and then back again. The prose—a challenge to translate, I’m sure, but done so with aplomb by Stephanie Schechner—can be impressionistic . . . My personal hope is that this novel will mark the beginning of strong interest in and well-deserved praise for this author’s remarkable work.’—West Camel, European Literature Network
‘[Schechner] has written often about Best/LeMarchand and her portrayals of young, queer, working-class women in France’s coastal communities, knowledge that informs her shaping of this bracingly fresh coming-of-age story.’ —LitHub
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