Winter FlowersAngélique Villeneuve
It’s October 1918 and the war is drawing to a close.
Toussaint Caillet returns home to his wife, Jeanne, and the young daughter he hasn’t seen growing up. He is not coming back from the front line but from the department for facial injuries at Val-de-Grâce military hospital, where he has spent the last two years.
For Jeanne, who has struggled to endure his absence and the hardships of wartime, her husband’s return marks the beginning of a new battle. With the promise of peace now in sight, the family must try to stitch together a new life from the tatters of what they had before.
Written by Angélique Villeneuve.
Translated from the French by Adriana Hunter.
180pp, paperback with flaps, £12
Publication date: 21 October 2021
Born in Paris in 1965, Angélique Villeneuve lived in Sweden and India before returning to her native France. The author of eight novels, she has also written numerous children’s books. Les Fleurs d’hiver, which was published by Editions Phébus in 2014, won four literary prizes: the 2014 Prix Millepages, the 2015 Prix La Passerelle and Prix de la Ville de Rambouillet, and the 2016 Prix du Livre de Caractère de Quintin. Villeneuve’s novel Maria, published by Grasset Editions in 2018, won the SGDL Grand Prix for fiction. Her most recent work, La Belle Lumière, a fictional account of the life of Helen Keller’s mother, was published by Editions Le Passage in 2020.
Winter Flowers is the first of her books to be translated into English.
An award-winning British translator, Adriana Hunter has translated over ninety books from French, mostly works of literary fiction. She won the 2011 Scott Moncrieff Prize for her translation of Beside the Sea by Véronique Olmi (Peirene Press, 2010) and the 2013 French-American Foundation and Florence Gould Foundation Translation Prize for her translation of Hervé Le Tellier’s Electrico W, and her translations have been shortlisted twice for the International Booker Prize.
“An astonishing, compelling, slow-burn of a novel – full of understated power and devastating insight.” William Boyd
“In 1918, Paris is awash with rumours: about the war, about the Spanish flu, and about the lack of food. In shining prose, Villeneuve describes terrible losses, national, familial, and personal, and how one small family must learn to live together again. Affecting, moving, and compelling.” Claire Fuller
“Unflinchingly examining the visible and invisible wounds inflicted by war, this tenderly told story simultaneously reveals how courageous lovers find ways to repair each other’s damage.” Michèle Roberts
“Meticulously researched, Villeneuve describes the brutal emotional consequences of war. In her gorgeous writing she conveys the couple’s silences and communicates the inexpressible. Readers will take comfort in this family’s journey from estrangement to connection.” Janet Skeslien Charles, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Library