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French Book: ‘Une femme’

‘une femme  BY annie ernaux

‘Une femme’  (“A woman”) is a story about a woman and her relationship with her mother. It is all the more moving because of its autobiographical nature. The book is a very real glimpse into the life and the emotions of the author. Annie Ernaux left fiction early on to focus on autobiography and her novels capture various aspects of her life: her relationship with her father, her adolescence, her marriage etc.

‘Une femme’ is about the death of her mother. In 1986, her mother passed away in a care home after suffering from a mental illness that led to both her mental and physical degradation. What happens next is an examination of what it means to lose a mother. For Annie Ernaux, her mother was the start of her entry to this world, she was with her through the passage of time and as the author evolves, so does the relationship between mother and daughter.

A particularly moving quote is: “J’ai perdu le dernier lien avec le monde dont je suis issue.” which translates to “I have lost the last link with the world that I was born from”. It brings about feeling of detachment and loss but also highlights how a mother is such a core figure even if we may not realise it when they are around. A mother not only brings you into this world but shapes your experience of it too. It is ironic in a way, that the book is nonchalantly titled ‘Une femme’, when this “femme” is potentially the most important of them all.


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