Book of the week: The Lady and the Little Fox Fur by Violette Leduc
'Violette Leduc's novels are works of genius and also a bit peculiar' Deborah Levy, from the introduction.
An old woman lives alone in a tiny attic flat in Paris, counting out coffee beans every morning beneath the roar of the overhead metro. Starving, she spends her days walking around the city, each step a bid for recognition of her own existence. She rides crowded metro carriages to feel the warmth of other bodies, and watches the hot batter of pancakes drip from the hands of street-sellers.
One morning she awakes with an urgent need to taste an orange; but when she rummages in the bins she finds instead a discarded fox fur scarf. The little fox fur becomes the key to her salvation, the friend who changes her lonely existence into a playful world of her own invention.
The Lady and the Little Fox Fur is a stunning portrait of Paris, of the invisibility we all feel in a big city, and ultimately of the hope and triumph of a woman who reclaims her place in the world.
The Lady and the Little Fox Fur is written by Violette Leduc, with an introduction by Deborah Levy, translated by Derek Coltman and published by Viking Penguin Random House.
Violette Leduc was born in Arras in 1907, the illegitimate child of a servant girl. Sent to boarding school before the First World War, Violette was later expelled upon the discovery of her love affair with both another female pupil and her music teacher. During the Second World War she published her memoir, The Bastard, which scandalized the literary world with its explicit account of lesbian love, sold 150,000 copies in its first year, and earned her the acclaim of Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre and Camus. In 2013 a film was made of her life, Violette. She died in 1972.
Derek Coltman has translated many books from French into English, including Violette Leduc's other books La bâtarde, Mad in Pursuit and In the Prison of Her Skin.
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