In what is becoming a theme, I was really unsure about this book for a good while, but another blogger warned me to hang in there, they hadn’t been convinced by the opening both… so I took their advice, and do you know what? By the end you couldn’t prise this book from my hands!
We first meet Sophie Duguet when she is working as a nanny. She has problems with her memory which include lack of concentration and a complete absence of memory at times combined with problems sleeping she has to write things down to remember them. She loses things constantly and spends her free time blankly watching the television. One night when Madame Gervais, the mother of her charge returns home late, Sophie sleeps over and in the morning on going to wake Léo, she, finds him dead. Not a natural death either. Sophie remembers nothing but an item belonging to her is there on the body and she flees.
Yes, I hear you. I’ve read other books that feature memory loss, and it seems like an easy device to create tension when really none exists. This was part of my issue with this part of the book, that and seemingly random violence and a young woman whose actions I didn’t understand at all, however much the author tried to make me sympathise with her, I struggled.
However we know a little about Sophie; although only young, she has been recently widowed, her ever-patient husband dying in a car accident. This combined with her memory problems and her guilt over the increasingly annoying incidents that this provoked has worn her down further. She is clearly a vulnerable young woman, but… she killed a child, whether she remembers it or not!
Sophie’s face is plastered across the papers – she is wanted for murder and she knows that the police will be seeing if she contacts her dear father or her best friend. Sophie is resourceful and decides to move far away, to a place where she has no connection. She assumes new identities, works cash in hand and after many low-paid jobs and moving neighbourhoods decides that she will start again by getting married. She has three months to do the deal, and so she goes on the internet to find a man.
Despite me being extremely wary of the underlying premise and being slightly sickened by some of the violent scenes and not overly fond of imagining life on the run, Pierre Lemaitre’s writing is stunning. I felt Sophie’s panic and could picture her at the train station with her newly dyed hair trying to buy a ticket, while desperate not to do anything that would mean she stood out from the crowd. The author had me there at Sophie’s side, witnessing her as the third person who narrates the novel, so convincing was his portrayal, I believed in Sophie, she was real.
In part two we meet Franz through his diary written before Sophie’s descent into hell. He also documents Sophie’s problems and it as it this point that Pierre Lemaitre’s incontrovertible skill as a creator of one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve ever read becomes clear. It was one of those books where I felt the author really had got one over on me. He constructed his central characters knowing that he was making even this fairly suspicious reader, look in every direction, except the right one, and he keeps it up right until the bitter end.
I am not going to say anymore except if you pick up this book, stay with it and enjoy the ride, I’m off to see what other books by this author are going on my Christmas list!
Blood Wedding was published on 7 July 2016 by Quercus who kindly gave me a copy. This review is my unbiased thanks to them. I can’t leave this review without stating what a fantastic job the translator, Frank Wynne, did. Although the book ‘felt’ French, the translation to English was flawless with none of the stiltedness that can occur during translation.
First Published UK: 7 July 2016
No of Pages: 320
Genre: Psychological Thriller