Heloise is Bald by Émilie de Turckheim



Heloise is bald by Émilie de Turckheim

French fiction

Original title – Héloïse est chauve

Translator – Sophie Lewis

Source – review copy

when i first saw the child brides

two bridegroom boys at their side
genevieve in union with -holy communion
marriane the younger wife

and the child brides
went down to the water
neptune calls out to his daughters
throw yourself at the tide
i’ll see you on the other side

in a loveless marriage – when i was fourteen
all brained knees and black knees
then you come round here
with your fancy talk and your big ideas
what have you done with your wives

I choose The auteurs lyric Child brides , the is a seedy nature to their songs that match this book in a way .

Back in France again for woman in translation month and another read I have saved until later in the year . Emile de Turckheim , Studied French and American law , then after that taught for a while in prisons french and english . She then at the age of 24 published her first novel .She has since written 8 books in total , she has also written articles including one about being a life model to artists .She has won a number of prizes  for her books in France .

Heloise is bald . She still has a long life ahead of her . Her dress has the anxious stiffness of new clothes .Not a single smudge of varnish spoils her short red nails .Upright in her high chair , she is lower than the others , her toes squeezed into a pair of ballet slippers that struggle to contain the plump flesh of her feet .

The opening lines and the bay Heloise is in her high chair ,when Lawrence calms her .


Heloise is bald is a strange tale of love between a young girl and an older man. When I first mention this book I connected it with Lolita . I maybe was wrong in some ways . The story start when the baby Heloise in her parent house as a babe is really upset and is calmed by the family friend Lawrence  as she sucks his thumb and falls for this strange man  .This sparks a connection between the two that see the young baby grow into a girl on the verge of womanhood .But the connection between her and this older man , who is a doctor and a real charmer is one that is very sensual and daring in its nature as the two grow closer in their  natures .

Heloise slides both hands around Lawrence’s hips  , and he finds himself counting the years .he will be sixty when she is twenty .He’ll be snuffing it on the stroke of eighty when she in the happy valley of middle age , will be celebrating her fortieth .He realises that Heloise is sucking….

I leave that hanging as it is a very sexual scene that follows as the young girl gets her man .

This is a twisted story of a girl growing in love from five months old .I compared it Lolita but these are two different stories this is a girl who knows what she wants and that is Lawrence .But lawrence is a man whom is married and has had an affair with her own mother to name one .But he  is easily caught by this young girl when she finally get what she needs from Lawrence . I was reminded on some ways of the English film wish you where here something in Heloise character remind me of the character played by Emily Lloyd in this film  the way she is free of convention in the way she acts round men .This is a tale of growing up with the wrong idols .About men that let woman down but also on the surface seem all charm .A extraordinary story that could have only come to us from French literature .

Have you a favourite story of an age difference relationship ?


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. poppypeacockpens
    Aug 18, 2015 @ 19:59:55

    This does sound extraordinary, uncomfortable story, brave even… but if well executed a worthwhile read?

    Makes me think of Zoe Heller’s Notes of a Scandal & more recently Jennifer Tseung’s Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness… although both with older women and younger boys… and very well executed & worth reading.


  2. MarinaSofia
    Aug 18, 2015 @ 20:05:35

    This one has come highly recommended by various French friends – and I’ve never been able to find it at the library (too popular?). So yes, definitely one on my TBR list. Sounds like quite a challenging book, confounding expectations.


  3. BookerTalk
    Aug 19, 2015 @ 21:45:37

    That cover is rather creepy – not surprised at that having read your review and found out what kind of story it is


    • winstonsdad
      Aug 19, 2015 @ 21:46:05

      Yes cover is very in keeping with the book


    • Emma
      Aug 21, 2015 @ 19:54:40

      The cover of the English translation is a shame. I don’t know how the publisher could do this to this marvelous novel. Were they trying to sabotage it?

      The French cover has nothing to do with this (it’s on my review) and is in line with the novel’s tone.

      This book is not creepy. It’s not Lolita. It’s an unusual story, that’s all.


      • winstonsdad
        Aug 21, 2015 @ 19:56:11

        Yes I think uk publisher made to much of Lolita to me it is like I say story of a young girl growing up in love with the wrong man and being free

      • BookerTalk
        Aug 23, 2015 @ 10:39:54

        cover design is a bit of a mystery to me, especially when the design changes from one country to another. if the design was the perfect one for the book in the original language why change it?

  4. Emma
    Aug 21, 2015 @ 20:01:04


    As you may know, I really enjoyed this book and I came to it unwillingly.
    It really think the English publisher was unfair with this cover as I wrote it here


    I usually don’t copy/paste links to my reviews in comments but I want to defend this novel from being associated with Lolita as I’ve seen it done several times.


    Lolita is creepy. This is not creepy. This is an ode to life written in enchanting prose.


  5. Trackback: That was August on winstonsdad | Winstonsdad's Blog

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August 2015


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