When her French composer-husband brings a few co-workers home from the Paris carwash where he is working to earn some money, Jane de la Rochefoucault gets the feeling that something odd is about to happen. When these co-workers steal a secret prototype car to fund a rescue plan for members of their Muslim brotherhood being held hostage, Jane’s mother-in-law hides them in her chateau while they work their plans—and Jane is embroiled in an adventure that will put her family in a bit of a predicament. Little does she know that her own famiglia connections will help save the day.
Anne Marsella’s novel combines the trials and tribulations of first-time motherhood, culture clashes, and marriage with an international crime caper. Mafia uncles, upper-crust communists, absent-minded avant-garde composers, and feminist academics are just some of the wonderful characters she has created to enliven her tale of raising a baby in Belleville, a multicultural, mainly immigrant section of Paris.
While the plot features some imaginative flights of fancy, there are wonderfully real depictions of events and issues that many mothers will recognize: concerns about whether or not to breastfeed, balancing work and family, setting up your home with limited income, and learning how to fit into life in a foreign country all come up in both serious and hilarious situations.
Selected for the magazine section ” Les Bonnes Feuilles”.
« …Tout en adoptant un ton détaché et factuel, l ‘auteur parvient à se glisser dans la personnalité de ses héros et à leur donner vie. Par une sorte de mimétisme, elle restitue les tics de langage et trouve la voix propre à chacun, un anglais estropié , un tour naïf ou fleuri, des arabismes, des mots inventés à la consonance pittoresque. L ‘histoire se présente parfois comme une succession d’épîtres ou comme tissées de monologues qui se répondent et éclairent différents points de vue. Mais, le plus souvent, le narrateur est omniscient et le récit permet de mêler tendresse et ironie, sympathie pour les laissés-pour-compte de l’histoire et leurs tâtonnements, mais aussi dénonciation de l’injustice, de la cupidité et des violences muettes faite à l’individu. Anne Marsella a des trouvailles d’inventivité, de cocasserie, d’humour … »
“Most of the characters in the ten stories making up this collection are profoundly alone, usually in a foreign, adopted city. They aren’t exactly lost, however, as the title might indicate: most, in fact, are willfully alone, in part no doubt because of their eccentricities. That’s what makes “The Lost and Found” an interesting book – Anne Marsella’s ability to trace the lives of misplaced people without condescension or melodrama, to imagine the everyday frictions of self-imposed exile…”
Native Californian Anne Marsella‘s debut novel Remedy
(Portobello Books) is set in a Pariscape peopled by odd, intriguing,
and enthusiastic characters. The resulting novel is more than the sum
of its eccentricities: it is a joyous romp, and an endearing read.
At the center of this very funny and highly original work is a young lady called Remedy O’Riley de Valdez, originally of Florida, USA and lately of Paris, France. The chapters mirror the Calendar of Saints, and Remedy, a “devout, if unorthodox” Catholic, lets the saint-of-the-day’s hagiography infuse her esprit du jour.
In Anne Marsella’s* warm and funny The Baby of Belleville, hierarchy is put to rest, making room for an all-inclusive Paris, a Paris where equal time is given to French feminist philosophers, aristocrats, plumbers, DJs, shepherdesses and kung fu experts. Here, you’ll see Paris at an oblique angle. And yet at the same time her stories seem uncanny in their familiarity, as stories of love and motherhood often are.
What I really like about her books (I also recommend her novel Remedy, where the protagonist works in the fashion world), are her unusual heroines. Intelligent, good-in-their-skin but still self-doubting. Never doubting, however, their bodies. Marsella writes women who take belly dancing lessons without self deprecation: an antidote to chick lit. Her protagonists also have an uncanny ability to read the needs of other humans, and especially artists. In The Baby of Belleville, the protagonist Jane hires a plumber who turns out to be a talented creator. He makes a fantastical, mosaic toilet for her, asking 200 euros for his work. As Jane retrieves the money she feels tears coming on, “The truth was, I was being pulled by two contrasting emotions – the tragedy of spending two hundred euros on a toilet and the unforgivable slight of paying an artist so little for so much.” She sends him …
On peut raconter sa vie de différentes manières, mais pour Patsy Boone, une est infaillible: la correspondance. Elle communique avec sa gardienne d’immeuble – et lui raconte toutes ses misères – par lettres.
On apprend ainsi que si Patsy a quitté New York, c’est sur les conseils d’un chaman amérindien débordé qui l’envoie chez un de ses. « collegues » parisiens; M. Nez-percé. Lequel doit la soigner de son aménorrhee. Mais a Paris, Patsy se consacre aussi a sa passion: les claquettes. Une activité qui n’améliore pas les relations de bon voisinage.
De ces échanges épistolaires, il ressort un roman drôle, inattendu, qui mêle avec subtilité l’histoire d’une femme et celle des Indiens d’ Amérique. On traîne des pieds dans les premières pages et on poursuit la lecture au galop.
Elle n’ a pas sa langue dans sa poche, Patsy Boone. Surtout quand il s’ agit de sa concierge. Patsy aime les claquettes, cela crée des onomatopées sur le parquet et des pugilats dans la cage d’ escalier. Et la jolie Patsy de prendre la plume pour narrer sa vie et ses croyances au cerbère en Jupons. La famille restée aux Etats-Unis, Grandma Gun se défonce au highball (melange bourbon-soda qui arrache), les amants, Queequeg le psy ou Heathcliff et sa MG décapotable.
This first book, a story collection showing immense mastery of character, dialect, and narrative, won the 1993 Elmer Holmes Bobst Award for Emerging Writers. Born in Fresno, California, Marsella lives in Paris and writes largely about people of the underclasses or Third World, men and women from places like Chile, Nigeria, Istanbul, Morocco, and Mexico, slipping like a cat into myriad psyches and argots. Though she writes usually in a voice mirroring that of her characters, she fears no oddity of language, coming up with nutty tidbits that drive you to the dictionary. (When did you last use nimiety, embrangle, emulous, or partible?) In “Miss Carmen,” a Chilean woman arrives “in the Valley of San Joaquin” in California, gets a job polishing silver for a rich woman, gets a crush on a Mexican foreman but loses him, perhaps through her own small-minded pride. In “The Roommates,” Mary, a big, lanky girl from Kenya, shares a room in Paris with Selma from Istanbul, then with Selma’s lover, a Greek sweatshop foreman who also happens to be their married boss, and finally, after two years, abandons the dominating Selma to go live with an albino English gentleman in London. In “Testimony,” a Hispanic priest falls obsessively in love with his seminary’s young atheist gardener and finds himself driven into invisibility, or so …