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Secret by Philippe Grimbert

Secret (original 2004; edition 2008)

by Philippe Grimbert

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3431632,058 (3.67)6
Authors:Philippe Grimbert
Info:Portobello Books Ltd (2008), Paperback, 160 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:Fiction, TBR

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Memory by Philippe Grimbert (2004)



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English (11)  French (3)  Dutch (2)  All languages (16)
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Although an only child, for many years I had a brother. Holiday friends and casual acquaintances had no option but to take my word for it. I had a brother. Stronger and better looking. An older brother, invisible and glorious.

The boy who narrates this small novel imagines having an older brother, one who is everything he is not: athletic, handsome, and beloved of their father. The brother figure is his alter ego, companion, and rival, someone with whom to wrestle with in the night in an effort to dominate and to acquire the characteristics that he himself lacks. He senses his father's disappointment in him and imagines a perfect life for his parents before he was born. But "the day after my fifteenth birthday, I finally learned what I had always known." This knowledge that a family friend shares with him changes everything: his identity, his relationship with his parents, and his place in the world. He must re-imagine everything, and in doing so he creates a new truth, which is cathartic for both himself and his father.

The author of this autobiographical novel is a psychoanalyst, and he delves into issues of identity, desire, guilt, and memory with a deft touch. In an interview that comprises the afterword, Philippe Grimbert says that in writing this book, "I was finally becoming the master of a story of which I had so long been the dupe." Yet he also admits that "I think I have discovered the truth of this story more than its reality, but in any case, this psychological truth was more important to me than the historical reality." (Italics are the author's.) An exploration of the past, both his own and his parents', Memory is a personal history, but also a perspective on an entire generation of children growing up in the shadow of World War II.

This novel has also been made into a 2007 award-winning movie called "A Secret". ( )
1 vote labfs39 | Sep 24, 2013 |
I like short books
  pam.enser | Apr 1, 2013 |
A young boy, an only child, believes he has an older brother. He carries on imagined discussions with his brother, building him into a real person. One day he finds an old plush toy, a dog, in his family's attic.

A man meets the love of his life on his wedding day. He manages to keep this secret from his wife, even though the woman he loves is her sister-in-law.

A man who has never considered himself a Jew is forced to abandon his business and flee Paris after the Germans invade. He prepares a home for his wife and son who await their chance to escape. All goes well until his wife's sister-in-law arrives ahead of her own husband.

A desperate woman commits a Medea like betrayal.

What if the sequence of events that led you to unite with the love of your life included your own family's death?

Philppe Grimbert's novel Memory is not really about memory, nor is it really about secrets though its French title is The Secret. It's really about how much damage love can do.

Surrender to it at great risk. ( )
  CBJames | Jul 17, 2011 |
This was so beautifully done that I read it again in the original French. ( )
  churmice | Mar 28, 2009 |
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To Tania and Maxime, and to Simon
First words
Although an only child, for many years I had a brother.
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"Twenty years after his mother and father jumped to their deaths from a balcony, Philippe Grimbert has written a gripping novel about the hidden memories that dominated their lives." "Memory is the story of a family haunted by the secret of their past: an illicit love affair, a lost child, and a devastating betrayal dating back to the Second World War." "Growing up in postwar Paris as the sickly only child of glamorous athletic parents, the narrator invents for himself a make-believe older brother, stronger and more brilliant than he can ever be. It is only when the boy begins talking to an old family friend that he comes to realize that his imaginary sibling had a real predecessor: a half brother whose death in the concentration camps is part of a buried family secret that he was intended never to uncover."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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