Fabriquer une femme by Marie Darrieussecq

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Since the publication of her debut novel, Truisme, which took France’s literary world by storm in 1996, Marie Darrieussecq has shown, book after book, an impressive dedication to dissecting the specificities of the feminine condition of her time.

If Fabriquer une femme, her latest novel, can be read as yet another reflection about womanhood, it also gives her entire work another layer of depth. Rose and Solange, its two heroines, are familiar to us, as they were at the center stage of Darrieussecq’s past fiction — Clèves (Solange); Il faut beaucoup aimer les hommes (Solange); and La Mer à l’envers (Rose). Fabriquer une femme might be a bildungsroman with two feminine protagonists, but it is also a book that enshrines Darrieussecq’s previous novels within a definite literary genre, that of a fresco that stretches from the 80’s until well into the new millennium.

As kids growing up in Clèves, a little French village at the at the Western border with Spain, Rose and Solange were inseparable. Immune to the differences of their social backgrounds – Rose is born into a progressive, upper middle class family while Solange’s milieu is working class – their friendship will stand all the tests that life will throw at them. While Solange and Rose experience love, sex, friendship, solitude, companionship, abandonment, home life and the workplace, and leave Clèves for Bordeaux, Paris, London, and ultimately Los Angeles, the country elects its first socialist president in history, Berlin’s Wall falls, and AIDS becomes suddenly omnipresent.

Fabriquer une femme is so addictive that the temptation to read it in one sitting is strong, though slow readers might be even more rewarded. Would you risk missing how gracefully Marie Darrieussecq embeds Solange’s and Rose’s personal narratives into the transformations of French society at the turn of the 21 century ? How subtly she weaves together their shifting point of views? And how powerfully she questions the construction of masculinity and femininity in her era? Fabriquer une femme all at once intelligent, insightful, mischievous and tender.

Fabriquer une femme, a novel by Marie Darrieussecq, POL

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After almost two decades of working in publishing, and a few round trips between Paris and New York, Miriam has decided to settle down at Albertine to do what she enjoys most: recommending books she loves. Somehow this also includes taking bizarre pictures for Albertine's social media outlets.
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