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Seven Houses in France by Bernardo Atxaga
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Seven Houses in France (2009)

by Bernardo Atxaga

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1069175,342 (3.33)6
The year is 1903, and the garrison of Yangambi on the banks of the River Congo is under the command of Captain Lalande Biran. The captain is also a poet whose ambition is to amass a fortune and return to the literary cafes of Paris. His glamorous wife Christine has a further ambition: to own seven houses in France, a house for every year he has been abroad. At Lalande Biran's side are the ex-legionnaire van Thiegel, a brutal womaniser, and the servile, treacherous Donatien, who dreams of running a brothel. The officers spend their days guarding enslaved rubber-tappers and kidnapping young girls, and at their hands the jungle is transformed into a wild circus of human ambition and absurdity. But everything changes with the arrival of a new officer and brilliant marksman: the enigmatic Chrysostome Liege.… (more)

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» See also 6 mentions

Spanish (5)  English (3)  Catalan (2)  All languages (10)
Showing 3 of 3
A dark book written like a light one, this story of colonialism and murder is actually great fun. It's a lot more accessible than [Obabakoak] which I also loved and I think it would be a great first Atxaga for lovers of off-beat literary fiction. ( )
  bostonbibliophile | Aug 27, 2014 |
The book opens with a rather dour new officer arriving by boat on his first posting abroad. The officer, Chrysostome, doesn’t attempt to fit in with his fellow officers and they, in turn, despise his puritan upbringing, not only is he blatantly religious to a fundamental degree, but he refuses the usual soldierly fun of gambling, getting drunk and raping the native womenfolk . They also fear him. This man could shoot the eyebrows of a mosquito at five hundred paces.

The setting for this novel is the garrison of Yagambi, on the banks of the River Congo and the year is 1903. The senior officer is Captain Lalande Biran, who would prefer to be back in Paris frequenting the lounges of the Literati with his wife (more of her later), & releasing the odd book of poetry than commanding eighteen white officers of the Force Publique and the Askaris - native soldiers recruited to help quell the other natives who have the audacity to rebel intermittently.

Time goes really slow here, with very little to do beyond overseeing the slaves as they work, producing rubber and mahogany and keeping the natives in order. So time is spent drinking, gambling & consorting/raping the natives, there are dangers even here as STD’s* seems to be everywhere, although most of the officers are not particularly worried. Except the Captain, he is so terrified of catching syphilis, that he has an officer pick & test girls for their virginity & then keep them caged until he’s ready.

Captain Lalande Biran’s wife, Christine, is a stunner and the reason he is out here. It would appear that she is addicted to the TV programme Location, location, location because although they have six houses purchased by smuggling Ivory and Mahogany, she wants another, in fact she has her eyes set on a seventh in glamorous St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
Into this world of relaxed cruelty and debauchery steps our puritan officer and just by being who he is, slowly upsets the applecart.

http://parrishlantern.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/seven-houses-in-france-bernardo-atx... ( )
1 vote parrishlantern | Jun 26, 2012 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bernardo Atxagaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Costa, Margaret JullTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pujol, NúriaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Satué, EnricDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Theros, XavierTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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