Forgotten on Sunday by Valérie Perrin

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Historical Fiction
Forgotten on Sunday by Valérie Perrin

By Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)

Forgotten on Sunday by Valérie Perrin

Forgotten on Sunday by Valérie Perrin is published with Europa Editions UK and is translated from the French by Hildegarde Serle. Described as ‘melancholic and humorous, a story of past, present and undeclared love, and friendship across the generations’Forgotten on Sunday is the debut novel by Valérie Perrin. Originally published in France in 2015 and winning the Booksellers Choice Award, the paperback edition has been a long-selling best-seller since. I have read Fresh Water for Flowers and Three, both by Valérie Perrin, and was an immediate fan. Valérie Perrin evokes so many emotions with her writing. It is profound and beautiful storytelling with a style that is very much her own. I was really excited to see where this most captivating of authors started her journey writing novels and I was certainly not disappointed.

Justine Neige is twenty-one years old and has worked in a local retirement home as a care assistant for three years. Her parents were both killed in a tragic car accident when she was younger and she has lived much of her life with her grandparents and her cousin Jules. Justine is not like the other young adults her age. She has no ambition beyond the town where she lives. Justine likes the company of the residents in the home. She loves to listen to their stories and to keep them company when no one else visits them.

‘Old folks, since that’s all they have left to do, can tell the past like no one else. Don’t bother searching in books or movies: like no one else…I understood that, with the elderly, it’s enough just to touch them, to hold their hand, for them to talk.’

Justine is very gentle and kind with all the residents of The Hydrangeas, willingly working longer hours, absorbing their company and understanding their needs. Hélène Hel, a resident of nearly 100 years of age, stays in room 19 and it is to her that Justine gravitates the most. Nicknamed ‘The Beach Lady’, she is the only one among the geriatric population that Justine calls by her first name. Justine is drawn to the stories she tells and has started to gather Hélène’s thoughts in a blue notebook, pulling the story of her life together into a coherent form. Along the way, Justine uncovers a remarkable tale of passion and war but unexpectedly the secrets of her own past begin to spill out, with revelations beyond anything she could possibly have anticipated.

In true form, Valérie Perrin has written another beautiful novel that pulls at all the heartstrings. Forgotten on Sunday threads the past and present into a stunning tale about secrets and lies, passion and grief, war and fear. The depiction of the brutality of the Second World War, recounted via the memories of Hélène, feels lived, as though we are hearing the true story of a woman who dealt with unimaginable pain and tragedy. In parallel, Justine’s story is heart-breaking as the layers are revealed of past deeds, vengeance and mistakes.

Forgotten on Sunday by Valérie PerrinForgotten on Sunday is a descriptive and stunning portrayal of lives that have suffered injustice and survived adversity. Written with a very sensitive hand and an elegant style, Valérie Perrin captures the relationship between Justine and Hélène beautifully. Affecting and melancholic with a lightness and warmth intertwined throughout the novel, Forgotten on Sunday is a truly gorgeous addition to any bookshelf and is a must for all fans of this exquisite writer.

(c) Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)

Order your copy online here.

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