Reviews - What do customers think about Les Âmes grises (Le Livre de Poche)?
Murder and War Nov 3, 2006
Philippe Claudel's book takes the reader back in time to World War 1 in the Lorraine region of France. Already crushed by the war, the little community of V. is even more shaken by a series of suicides that culminate with the murder of a little girl. Although set in France between 1914 and 1937 (time when the narrator relates his memories), the book is strangely universal: war happens anywhere at any time and is no more than legalized crime; crime also happens anywhere at any time and when it is a small child that is involved, it remains all the more horrific. The reader quickly forgets that it is World War I and can easily apply the events to contemporary times, contemporary facts of war. The author also manages to convey intensity through the rich use of the lexical fields of blood: war, murder, suicide, delivery hemorraghy, death, and the permanence of the gray that is part of the French title. Are those "Ames grises" ghosts, are they grey because real life is never black and white, are they "grises" because they are drunk (in French, someone is "gris" when he or she ha had too much to drink, and in the book, it is the civilians and the soldiers' main occupation apart from dealing with the war)? There is no doubt that the author also played on Gogol's famous book "Dead Souls". Until the very end, the author manages to capture the reader's intrerest and there is indeed no clues as to who has committed the crime. I will certainly not waste the reader's surprise.