Ladivine by Marie Ndiaye
Original title – Ladivine
Translator – Jordan Stump
Source- Review Copy
Winstons score A- A solid book from one of the current stars of french lit, shows how hard it is to try escape one’s past.
Well I was pleased this was on the man booker I knew another novel from this writer was in the pipeline from maclehose and the fact it got the nod on the first man booker list means we got to read it a week earlier than planned. In my score I said a star Marie Ndiaye is she has won numerous prize including the top prize for French literature the Prix Goncourt For her novel Three strong women which I reviewed a few years ago.
She was Malainka again the moment she got on the strain she found it neither a pleasure or a burden, having long since stopped noticing.
But it happened, she could tell, for no more could she answer without a second thought to Clarisse when rarely, someone she knew took that same train and called to greeted her as Clarisse, only to see her stare back in puzzled surprise, a hesitant smile on her lips, creating a mutual discomfort that the slightly flustered Clarisse never thought to dispel by simply echoing that hello, that how are you offhandedly as she could
The past and present are shown in the opening lines of the book As a Malinka now Clarisse is caught en route to mum.
Ladivine remind me in some ways of Three strong women as again Ndiaye has used three women as the main backbone of this story. But this time they are all in the same story and the story focus on Clarisse rivers mother and daughter in the story. She is the daughter to Ladivine the woman of the title of the book, her poor mother who has worked hard all here life as a lowly housekeeper. Clarisse has wanted to hide her past after growing up and away from her mother and her past even her name is different . She has married a successful man Richard Rivere and pretends her past isn’t there. But this hiding from her husband eventually leads to the break up of her marriage and her meeting a new partner this is where we meet Her daughter Also called Ladivine like the grandmother Ladivine Rivere , that has grave worries other her mothers new boyfriend Freddy and what he really wants with her mother !
Clarisse Rivere felt herself floating back and forth on a warm, thick swell. Whose density stilled any move she might try to make. She didn’t want to move anyway, because it would hurt, it would hurt terribly, she knew, if she made attempts to change her position. She couldn’t remember if she was sitting and standing , lying or crouching, outdoor or at home, but it didn’t much matter. She had to place her faith in the mindless but confident perseverance of the heavy, dense tide now carrying her off
This passage shows the power of Ndiaye and her way to draw you into her characters worlds.
This is one of those family sagas that draws you in and I think it is Ndiayes writing her characters always jump of the page to me and become so real. We all have met a Clarisse in our lives that woman who has made it but wants to runaway from her past. I was reminded of the lines Hanibal lector said in silence of the Lambs to agent starling about being one genration away from white trash . This is the sense with Clarisse even a change in name and pretending your mother is dead isn’t enough But why try to esacape your past and give your daughter your mothers name these are all questions you ask yourself. This is a great look into how we treat people in the world. It also shows how having secrets and things to hide can also draw you into more danger. A real book for anyone that Like Three strong woman or writers Like Zadie Smith or Jhumpa Lahiri both writer that capture their own worlds so well like Ndiaye does her a world of wanting to be accepted but having a past.
Have you read Ndiaye ?