Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre (translated by Frank Wynne)

513JYu379WL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_“Sophie Duguet is losing her grip. Haunted by visions from her past, of her loving husband, who committed suicide after a car accident.

One morning she wakes to find Leo, the child in her care, strangled in his bed by Sophie’s own shoelaces. She can remember nothing of the night before. Could she really have killed him? She flees in panic, but this only cements her guilt in the eyes of the law.

Not long afterwards it happens again – she wakes with blood on her hands, with no memory of the murder committed. Just what is it that comes over Sophie when she sleeps? And what else might she be capable of?

Wanted by the police, and desperate to change her identity, Sophie decides to find a man to marry. To have and to hold. For better or for worse. Till death do them part . . .”

I am a huge fan of Pierre Lemaitre’s Commandant Camille Verhœven trilogy so this standalone book was a ‘must read’ for me.  I was a little apprehensive as I wanted it to be just as good as the trilogy.  I wasn’t disappointed, it was a great read.

Sophie has lost everything; her husband, her job, her chance at motherhood…and now she is losing her mind.  She has black outs; nothing all that unusual there.  But when Sophie wakes up from her black outs, there is always a body nearby and all of the evidence points to Sophie as the killer.  So she comes up with the only plan that makes sense, and that is to run.  Sophie never spends too long in one place, taking cash in hand jobs and doing unthinkable things.  Before long she realises that she needs to kill off Sophie Duguet and start a new life; a new birth certificate and a married name, that’s what she needs.  Or is it…?

This is a complex story with heart stopping twists and turns all over the place.  You think you can see where the plot is going but then it flips itself over, taking you completely by surprise.  It’s brilliantly written (as I have come to expect from this author) with short, punchy sentences and no messing around.  My initial apprehension didn’t last long as I was drawn into the story and the familiar style of Lemaitre.

The characters are brilliantly drawn, full of intensity and paranoia with an extra handful of creepy for your reading pleasure!  I did eventually like Sophie but it was a hard slog.  There are very few characters to like but that is a good thing, as it’s a dark story about being in the worst place possible.  The tale of one woman’s slow destruction and the external influences that conspire to create such a tragic state.

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would.  I found it hard to put this book down and I’m still thinking about it several days later.  That, to me, is the sign of a great read.  Very compelling, I defy you to not be drawn in to Sophie’s tale.

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to MacLehose Press, the author and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of Blood Wedding in exchange for an honest review.

Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre (translated by Frank Wynne) was published in the UK by MacLehose Press on 7th July 2016 and is currently available in hardback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Smith & Sons (11)

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Pierre Lemaitre is a French novelist and screenwriter.

Awards: Prix du premier roman du Festival de Cognac 2006 pour Travail soigné – Prix Le Point du polar européen pour Cadres Noirs – Meilleur polar francophone 2009 au Salon de Montigny pour Robe de marié

 

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Frank Wynne was born in 1962 and grew up in Strandhill, Co. Sligo. His father – with T R Henn and others – was among the founding members of the Yeats Summer School in Sligo in 1959, and was President of the school until his death. Through the Summer School, Wynne was introduced to literary figures (whose lectures he recorded with a tape recorder), among them Richard Ellmann and Seamus Heaney

In 1984 he moved to Paris, where he stayed for three years. He moved to London in 1987, at first managing a small French bookshop in Kensington, which sold, among other things, graphic novels. Wynne became involved in the bandes dessinées movement in London and was hired to work on Revolver. From there he moved to Crisis before becoming managing editor of Deadline magazine, home of Tank Girl.

After the demise of Deadline in 1994-5, in part through the badly received film version of Tank Girl, he worked for a time as editorial director of AOL UK.
“I was employee number seven in AOL UK. I went from being the youngest person in every company I had worked for to being the second-oldest person in AOL.”
After he left AOL, he began translating the works of Michel Houellebecq. He now dedicates his time fully to writing and translations.

He describes himself as being of “no fixed abode”, having lived and travelled widely in Central and South America, the Netherlands, Hungary, Turkey, Ireland and the UK.
He has worked as a literary translator for many years translating the novels of Michel Houellebecq. He jointly won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award with Houellebecq for Atomised, his translation of Les Particules élémentaires. He has subsequently translated Houellebecq’s novels Platform and Lanzarote, together with novels by Pierre Mérot, Frédéric Beigbeder and the late Ivoirian novelist Ahmadou Kourouma.

His translation of Frédéric Beigbeder’s Windows on the World, a novel set in the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York during the September 11, 2001 attacks, won the 2005 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. He also won the 2008 Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize for his translations of Beigbeder’s Holiday in a Coma and Love Lasts Three Years.

Wynne also translated a number of French bandes dessinées, including graphic novels by Enki Bilal, Lorenzo Mattotti, Max Cabanes and Édika. His first non-fiction book, I Was Vermeer, a biography of Han van Meegeren was published by Bloomsbury in August 2006. Between 1938 and 1944 van Meegeren forged seven paintings, passing them off as lost masterpieces by Vermeer. The works were authenticated by some of the finest art critics in Europe, among them Abraham Bredius, who acclaimed Van Meegeren’s forgery The Supper at Emmaus as “one of – I would go so far as to say * the* masterpiece by Johannes Vermeer of Delft”. Wynne’s biography, I was Vermeer has been serialised as the BBC Radio 4 “Book of the Week” (read by Anton Lesser) for August 7–12, 2006.

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4 thoughts on “Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre (translated by Frank Wynne)

  1. I adored Alex, his first translated novel but struggled with the subsequent one for some reason. I think it was probably because it was out of order and I hate reading out of order! And for that reason I’ve never gone back, which is a shame indeed as I did love his work. This sounds like another great book.

    Like

    • Alex is by far the best book in the trilogy and on my ‘favourite books of all time’ list. This is a great read but it’s not Alex (saying that, I don’t think I would want it to be!).

      It’s worth a look if you enjoyed Lemaitre’s style before.

      Liked by 1 person

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