The Book of Mother - Reading Guide
Use our guide to read what the judges said was a ‘stark, no-holds-barred depiction of a mother-daughter relationship’.
Violaine Huisman’s remarkable debut novel is an exquisitely wrought story about a daughter’s inextinguishable love for her magnetic, mercurial mother. Translated by Leslie Camhi.
Beautiful and charismatic, Catherine, aka ‘Maman’, smokes too much, drives too fast, laughs too hard and loves too extravagantly. During a joyful and chaotic childhood in Paris, her daughter Violaine wouldn’t have it any other way. But when Maman is hospitalised after a third divorce and breakdown, everything changes.
As the story of Catherine’s own traumatic childhood and coming of age unfolds, the pieces come together to form an indelible portrait of a mother as irresistible as she is impossible, as triumphant as she is transgressive.
About the AuthorViolaine Huisman was born in Paris in 1979, but has lived and worked in New York for over 20 years.
About the TranslatorLeslie Camhi is a New York-based essayist, cultural journalist and translator.
I enjoyed the swagger and occasional erudition of its larger-than-life characters, and all the contradictions that give the book its vital force in French.— Leslie Camhi, translator of The Book of Mother
Violaine Huisman’s The Book of Mother brings alive the high-drama world of Violaine and her mother, Catherine. This stark, no-holds-barred depiction of a mother-daughter relationship feels incredibly immediate, a beautiful, bold novel translated with a deceptively elegant simplicity by Leslie Camhi.— The 2022 International Booker Prize judges