Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Slow Waltz of Turtles

Finished December 31
The Slow Waltz of Turtles by Katherine Pancol, translated by William Rodarmor

This book is the follow up the The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles, which introduced us to Josephine Cortes. Here Josephine has moved to a new apartment in a better neighbourhood, but she doesn't feel at home there, and still goes back to her old neighbourhood to shop. Her younger daughter Zoe lives with her, but Hortense has achieved a place at a fashion school in London and spends most of the year there. Hortense knows what she wants and is driven to achieve it. Josephine's sister has suffered a breakdown and as the book begins is in a mental hospital. Her husband Philippe has taken their son to London and is learning to live a new life there.
Josephine's mother Henriette is obsessed with her estranged husband's new life, refusing to grant him a divorce and working to try and make his lover's life unhappy.
As Josephine learns to be more confident in what she truly wants and to draw lines against those that she begins to understand don't value her as a person, she gains strength and self-awareness slowly. She has always been a woman who puts others before herself, and this is a hard habit to change.
Put off by the snobbishness of her new neighbours, Josephine befriends the concierge Iphigenie, improving her situation as she does.
Early in her new home, Josephine is walking home one evening through the nearby park, only to be attacked by a stranger. Only something she is carrying saves her life, and she grows wary of her new neighbourhood. When a woman she knows is killed, she becomes more fearful. When more murders connected to her new home occur, she begins to eye both her new neighbours and old acquaintances with concern. When she befriends a badly scarred stray dog and names him Du Guesclin, after the Black Dog of Broceliande, one of the greatest warriors of his generation, yet a notoriously ugly man. She takes the dog in, offering love and companionship and enriching her and Zoe's lives.
As we gradually learn the sad story of the deaths, we become aware that what we see of people isn't always the truth, and the secrets people live with are sometimes too much to bear.
The title does have meaning that we only learn toward the end, a bittersweet story of love and cruelty, This book has a bit of fantasy to it as well that adds another layer. A great read.

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