How do you live when you’ve lost everything?

How do you live when you’ve lost everything?
How do you live when you’ve lost everything?

By the way, ‘A breve vida das flores’ (Valérie Perrin, Presença) has become one of the bestsellers of the year also in Portugal, repeating the success it has had elsewhere. And if this today is saying a lot about a book, let alone a book that has as its protagonist the guard of a cemetery in a French village.

And you ask: what interesting thing can happen to guarding a cemetery in a French village? Outside, little. Inside, so much so that at a certain point we get that feeling we get in all good books, whether set in a French village or in a castle in Scotland, there’s nothing left to say in the world, I need to read more books.

So, the story. Okay, we are wrong again because there is no way to tell you the ‘story’ without spoiling your experience with, as the English say, ‘spoilers’ (literally ‘spoilers’). If I tell you it’s about love fighting death, I don’t get many clients either. So what can I tell you: Violette, 50 years old, a dysfunctional marriage behind her back and a tragedy she barely survived, she lives alone in her house by the graves. One dawn, a man knocks on her door with a request: to leave her mother’s ashes in a stranger’s grave.

The book unfolds in past and present, between what we lost and what we can still gain, between suffering and recovery, as Violette reconstructs the puzzle of her personal tragedy and realizes that maybe things didn’t turn out as thinks and that everything has been very different.

I know by now you’re thinking ‘look at another summary that doesn’t count’ but if you read the book you’ll thank me for not telling you more. Suffice it to say that it is one of the best written books that has come to us in recent times. An old Portuguese woman even enters, who every summer offers the protagonist another doll with a typical costume (“And there are hundreds of typical costumes in Portugal” Violette is alarmed at a certain point), and who is responsible for one of the good laughs we give. throughout the book (we don’t spend all the time crying, although sometimes we really feel like it).

Good news: it is a redemptive book, in the sense that, no matter how much we have suffered, and no matter how much nothing can erase the mark of suffering in our lives, it is never too late to be happy. And that, in these times, is redemption enough.

Picuinhice: whoever translated the title from French ‘Changer l’eau des fleurs’ could at least, if the original was not very suggestive, have avoided the double cacophony ‘ve-vi’ (brief-life) ‘da-das’ (life of ), which sounds so bad. Why not ‘The short life of flowers’? But anyway. It’s a reader’s nit-picking, but when you have such a poetic book in your hands, it wouldn’t hurt to be more sensitive to these things. Now go read and then say something.

‘The Brief Life of Flowers’ – Valérie Perrin, Ed. Presence, E19.90

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: live youve lost

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