Three rival sisters by Marie-Louise Gagneur

Three rival sisters by Marie-Louise Gagneur

French fiction

Original title – Trois soeurs rivales

Translators – Anne Aitken and Polly Mackintiosh

Source review copy

I always enjoy when small presses find writers that haven’t seen the light of day in English. Here is another example of such a discovery from  Gallic books. A leading feminist writer in her time Marie-Louise Gagneur born in Doumblane she wrote more than twenty novels in her lifetime. They often focused on Anti-clericalism and the status of women. She campaigned to change the divorce laws, She was appointed to the chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur a year before her death. Her daughter was a famous sculptor. This is the first time she has been translated into English and is one of three books from Gallic books of french feminist writers the Revolutionary women series.

Henriette was twenty-five years old, with brown hair. Her features, whilst less refular than those of her sisters, had nonetheless a certain refined and intelligent appeal. Unlike her sisters, she was not immediately beautiful, but beneath her rather forbidding exterior lay a passionate nature, and her energetic and sharp movements suggested a stormy temperament that had been rather supressed by her upbringing had turned her natural tendency to moderate her bahaviour into a cunningness that manifested itself in the thin line of her mounthand her dark searching eyes.

I was remind of Mary bennet here in the story with the description of the eldest sister.

There are two stories in the book the first is a tale that is in a classic style of the time I was reminded of those period dramas I watched years ago. from Austen to even Catherine Cookson sisters as rivals for a man is a recurrent theme in stories around this time. it is a tale of three sisters and a man. set in the village that the writer grew up in herself. The sisters Henriette described as not as regular as her sisters but with a forbidding exterior lay a passionate nature energetic with a temper. Whereas Renee is described as like a Durer subject while her blond hair and blue eyes that look like pools of kindness I loved that description then Gabrielle is described as a mixture of her sisters the cat is set amongst the pigeons when a man appears the three sisters compete for his affections and eventually marriage. But when the race is run is the prize as sweet as expected !!

But Gabrielle, with her senesitive disposition, vivid imagination and a loving nature that bordered on obsessive, longed to find love as a prisoner longs for freedom and fresh air. She was like a carnation whose stem drooped under the weight of too many petals; she felt burdened by her overflowing heart. Her steps became slow and heavy and her shoulder stopped, her eyes were glassy and her gaze feverish, her pink nostrils flared ocasionally as if shewere drinkingin some hidden pleasure from the aire, she laughed or cried hysterically at the slightest provocation. And then paul Vaudrey would take her hand and look into her eyes with an expression that made her tremble. She was in love with him , and adored him with all the impulse and virginal devoution of first love.

They say love is blind her is a perfect description of that !!

I said it was like period dramas it is in the initial story the three sisters’ good have jumped off the pages of Pride and prejudice. I was reminded of the Benet sisters especially the description of Henriette was very like the way Mary was described. There is a second story a man loses his first wife as she is poisoned leaving him to marry his lover it is a shorter story the main story is the sister’s story which has a feminist twist on the pursuit of the man and also when they marry Paul is he all he seemed well given the time we maybe get a less rose glassed version than Austen did in her book once they married there it all went well here we get a glimpse at what probably happened when a modern woman of that age married a man. An interesting book that is of its time but isn’t aged and would make a great tv drama.

 

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