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Le Testament Français by Andreï Makine

Le Testament Français (1995)

by Andreï Makine

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,251259,212 (3.89)51



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» See also 51 mentions

English (18)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Lithuanian (1)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
An incredibly beautiful book of personal history juxtaposed with world history set against the tumultuous backdrops of twentieth century France and Russia. The novel has a very distinct Proustian flavour in that:
- it explores memory through adolescent eyes,
- the protagonist has a close relationship with his grandmother,
- the book is originally in French,
- every line is so damn thoughtful that I've to read it twice.

It's about memory, the importance of storytelling (in particular the stuff that family lores are made of), and my personal favourite - the power of languages especially the dual (or more) personas that come from bilingualism (or multilingualism). And all this is reminisced in the author's hypnotic prose through the eyes of an adolescent beginning to grasp the nuances of / find his identity in his family and the world. An impossibly excellent gem of a book. ( )
  kitzyl | Aug 31, 2017 |
Beautiful novel, very evocative and poetic, with a moving and surprising end. Should be read in your mother tongue if the translation is good. ( )
  stef7sa | Jan 5, 2017 |
A long novel about a kid and his relationship with his grandmother and their lives. Often hard to follow, perhaps just a cultural difference through translating the Russian man's French into English... ( )
  niquetteb | Aug 13, 2016 |
71 of 75 for 2015. The reading guide for this novel compares it to work by Nabokov and other great Russian authors, although I can't really see that. The book, written originally in French and presented here as an English translation, tells the story of a young man growing up in Soviet era Russia, spending his summers with his grandmother, a native of Paris. As someone who grew up in all the tension of the Cold War, I am fascinated by stories that tell of the life of my counterparts on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Essentially a Bildungsroman, the story of Andrei and his grandmother's history, the novel takes us through many years of growth, including the period when his "difference," that French background he has from his grandmother, stands in the way of his acceptance as a good soviet youth. The book has four separate, but interrelated time lines: the narrator's summers with Charlotte, his grandmother; the narrator's school years when he lives with his parents, then his aunt after his parents' deaths; Charlotte's youth in early 20th Century Paris; and the narrator's life after he leaves Russia for the West, primarily set in Paris. The first three weave their strands through most of the book. The fourth is presented almost as an addendum: and then I grew up. This is not one of my "light and frivolous" reads. Lots of detail here, and for me at least, a slow read, but worthwhile. ( )
  mtbearded1 | Aug 24, 2015 |
Semi-autobiographical novel hinging on the life of the narrator's grandmother, Charlotte. From the balcony of her small cottage (or izba in Russian), the grandson hears her stylized memories of life in Paris during the Belle Époque period. The writing is elegant, as if from the period, but is delivered as if in a reverie. It comes across as so oblique that I simply could not find a sustained connection to the story. References to tyranny, great societal change, the Great War, are all glancing - unfortunate because the era of early 20th C Russia is a fascinating one. A bit too much emphasis on style, not enough on engagement. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Apr 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Andreï Makineprimary authorall editionscalculated
Versteeg, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Marianne Veron and Herbert Lottman
For Laura and Thierry de Montalembert
For Jean-Christophe
First words
While still a child, I guessed that this very singular smile represented a strange little victory for each of the women: yes, a fleeting revenge for disappointed hopes, for the coarseness of men, for the rareness of beautiful and true things in this world.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
UK title: Le Testament Français
US title: Dreams of My Russian Summers
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684852683, Paperback)

Each summer, Andrei Makine's narrator and his sister leave the Soviet Union for the mythical land of France-Atlantis. That this country is a beautiful confabulation, a consolation existing only in his maternal grandmother's mind, makes it no less real. Though Charlotte Lemonnier lives in a town on the edge of the steppe, each night she journeys to a long-ago Paris, telling tales that the children then translate with their more Russian minds: "The president of the Republic was bound to have something Stalinesque about him in the portrait sketched by our imagination. Neuilly was peopled with kolkhozniks. And the slow emergence of Paris from the waters evoked a very Russian emotion--that of fleeting relief after one more historic cataclysm ..."

Makine's first novel is a singing tribute to the alchemy of inspiration, but it is no less familiar with the sorrows of reality. And it is only as he gets older that the narrator begins to piece together his grandmother's far more tragic past--her experiences in the Great War, the October Revolution, and after. Dreams of My Russian Summers is a love letter to an extraordinary woman (it's hard not to see the book as autobiographical) as well as to language and literature, which the boy turns to in avoidance of history's manipulations. It has all the marks of an instant classic.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:19 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A boy growing up in the Soviet Union of the 1960s and 1970s visits his French grandmother each summer, accumulating new tales of a Russia he never knew.

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