On the first Tuesday of every month, Clarisse Riviere leaves her husband and young daughter and secretly takes the train to Bordeaux to visit her mother, Ladivine. Just as Clarisse's husband and daughter know nothing of Ladivine, Clarisse herself has hidden nearly every aspect of her adult life from this woman, whom she dreads and despises but also pities. Long abandoned by Clarisse's father, Ladivine works as a housecleaner and has no one but her daughter, whom she knows as Malinka. After more than twenty-five years of this deception, the idyllic middle-class existence Clarisse has built from scratch can no longer survive inside the walls she's put up to protect it. Her untold anguish leaves her cold and guarded, her loved ones forever trapped outside, looking in. When her husband, Richard, leaves her, Clarisse finds comfort in the embrace of a volatile local man, Freddy Moliger. With Freddy, she finally feels reconciled to, or at least at ease with, her true self. But this peace comes at a terrible price. Clarisse will be brutally murdered, and it will be left to her now-grown daughter, who also bears the name Ladivine, to work out who her mother was and what happened to her.
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"Marie NDiaye offers a generational story of a family of women who seem to be living under a cloud of ill fortune. Narrator Tavia Gilbert illuminates the thoughts and emotions of Ladivine Sylla, an immigrant to France from a third-world country, as well as those of her female descendants. In this elegant translation by Jordan Stump, Gilbert makes NDiaye's exquisite lyrical prose breathe as she offers poignant portrayals of each character's anguish. Ladivine has a daughter who changes her name to Clarisse and passes as white. Clarisse has a child, also named Ladivine, who has little awareness of her black namesake. The women's lives are fraught with turmoil and all tend to end badly. Mysteries unfold, and time is fluid in this challenging novel, but Gilbert holds us captive throughout. S.J.H. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine"
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