Immortelles

Mireille Marokvia, Author MacAdam/Cage Publishing $17.5 (300p) ISBN 978-1-878448-72-9
Octogenarian author Marokvia offers a luminous evocation of her childhood in a small French village, a period shadowed by WWI and her mother's depressive illnesses, but enhanced by contact with her grandparents, whose sturdy peasant values have become more meaningful with time. In lean but lyrical prose, Marokvia manages to convey a child's bewildered impressions of the adult world--why her mother often took to her bed and turned her face to the wall, what happened the day the family doctor sent a mysterious letter after her mother had secretly visited him. Mingled here are lucid memories of refugees fed and sent onward and of soldiers succored and returned to battle. Foremost in Marokvia's life, however, were her beloved dog, Medor, her nurturing grandfather, who opened ""the vast window of the world"" through books, and her friend Odette, with whom she was locked in a cemetery at night, near the grave of a seven-year-old classmate who had died of a weak heart (an ailment that afflicted the author as well). Marokvia clearly remembers seeing the dreaded will-o'-the-wisp, or feu follet, ""a little blue light dancing among the graves"" that ""was worse than seeing a ghost.'' She did see other ghosts, and she describes those fleeting episodes with a magical intensity. Later, when Odette died in her 20s, Marokvia marked the end of her own youth. Yet this book is not lugubrious, but wise and stoic, as she contemplates ""losses turned to riches through the glorious illogical alchemy we call memory.'' Marokvia was first published in France more than 60 years ago; one hopes she will share other episodes from her life. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/09/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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