September 2019 book reviews

We read recent releases with a link to France. To be fair, each gets 20 minutes’ reading time. This month, The Tree of the Toraja, If I but knew..., The Sin of Abbé Mouret, and Fight to the Finish: The First World War - Month by Month

The Tree of the Toraja - Philippe Claudel ***EDITOR'S CHOICE***

MacLehose Press, £14.99 ISBN: 978-0-85705-770-9

A middle-aged filmmaker comes back to Paris, after a trip to Indonesia which has totally shaken his view of life and death, just to find out that one of his closest friends, Eugène, also his producer, is now suffering from cancer.

This news changes everything for him, from the moment he gets reunited with his friend to the day his friend is buried.

Lost and confused, the narrator – who remains unnamed – goes through different feelings which are difficult to identify.

At first he does not speak about his trip to Indonesia, and the Toraja’s vision of death – they consider death as a part of life.

As it is at the forefront of their culture, they have for tradition to intern the bodies of young deceased children in the trunks of trees – something that fascinates the narrator. As time passes, the trunk heals, ...

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