In Our Strange Gardens by Michel Quint

Published by Riverhead Books, New York.   Translated from the French by Barbara Bray

The story is chiefly told by a young boy seriously troubled by his father’s extra curricular activities as a clown.  Dressing up and acting the fool at every opportunity causes the boy deep embarrassment until he discovers why his father does what he does.  Gaston, married to Nicole, is a cousin and close friend of his father.  One day after a family visit to the cinema to see a film about the Germans and WWII Gaston tells the boy the whole story – a story of the Resistance, of blowing up a generator, of arrest, near death, a strange guard and an extraordinary solution.

Three clowns feature in the story and they are emblems of human resistance in this parable about the often transitory and unpredictable nature of good and evil in wartime situations.

The book is published as a bilingual edition with the original French text following the English translation.  The quality of production with continental style wrappers with flaps and the unquantifiable ‘feel’ to the book point o what you will entirely miss if you read the book in a digital format.  This really is a little gem of a book.

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