Books.  Jean-Paul Dubois, François Chandernagor, Christian Bobin... Our selection of 3 sublime works to read in May

Books. Jean-Paul Dubois, François Chandernagor, Christian Bobin… Our selection of 3 sublime works to read in May

Ode to the Creuse

River gold
by François Chandernagor
Ed. Gallimard, 304 p. ; €21

There was a time when, from the first songs of spring, men covered in the quartz dust of the roads, nicknamed the “white swallows”, crossed the Loire, descended to Paris to pave the streets, cut the stones, build the palaces. They came from Creuse, they were masons. In this “island” Creuse, not a basin as we believe, but an “Haute-Marche” of hills, plateaus and deep valleys, where the eponymous river spawns, the stony earth was not nourishing. Like the neighboring “bougnats” (contraction of charcoal burners and Auvergnats), the Creusois were swallowed up by the capital.

Françoise Chandernagor delivers in River gold his most intimate work, telling the story of his family. We discover a little girl raised in Palaiseau, in the Paris region, in a “quirky house”, enlarged over time by her mason grandfather; his epic round trips by car between Paris and this wild and dark countryside. Black fir trees reflected in the water, black women in mourning… Proud and independent, the Creusois were Communards and Freemasons, despite poverty. In this sumptuous, erudite and fluid story, we come across legends, beasts, Little Fadette by George Sand, and the octopus oaks.

After Fontloup the family estate, the famous novelist, member of the Académie Goncourt, bought Verneige, with its park and two ponds. There, she prides herself on protecting the small Creuse crayfish that her American cousin is endangering. There, she says that the ponds smoke like cauldrons, and in Melusine of the word, bewitches us forever.

Our opinion: ***

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