cover image Mademoiselle de Malepeire

Mademoiselle de Malepeire

Fanny Reybaud, trans. from the French by Barbara Basbanes Richter. Bancroft, $17.95 (158p) ISBN 978-1-61088-520-1

This entertaining tale of love, murder, and triumph from Reybaud (1802–1871) spans decades, starting from before the French Revolution. One day in 1822, 17-year-old aristocrat Frederic , one of the novel’s three narrators, arrives at the Provence home of his uncle, Dom Gérusac. Upon seeing the portrait of a beautiful young woman in the dining room, Frederic remarks, “I fell totally in love by contemplating this old portrait of the woman whose gaze, full of languid heat, seemed to be aimed directly at me.” He vows to discover what became of the woman in the painting, the mysterious Mademoiselle de Malepeire. Frederick listens as the other narrators—Marquis of Champaubert, an ambassador who wooed and lost the Mademoiselle, and Abbot Lambert, the local priest—flesh out Mademoiselle’s story, which involves a murder. The Mademoiselle proves herself to be a much more spirited and decisive person than the beautiful teenager of Frederic’s imagination. She may even have been prepared to kill for her freedom from those who wished to use her. This ripping yarn shows why Reybaud had such a huge following during her lifetime. Fans of 19th-century French literature will want to take a look. Agent: Sean Berard, Grandview Management. (Oct.)