The Good Story of Madeleine Démétrius
By Gaël Octavia
Gallimard, coll. “Black Continents”, 266 p, 19 €
“I’m going to tell you somethingdare that I lived, and you will make a book of it. “ Madeleine Démétrius, the Martinican friend, reappears in the narrator’s life with this promise of “Good story”. In high school, they trained with “The two Christelles” and Jessica “An indivisible whole”. After studying in France, each had returned to live in Fort-de-France, displaying a facade of happiness on social networks. Only the narrator, who became a writer, raising alone two daughters of different fathers, remained to live in Paris. Was it because she was out of line that she was banned from the group? Why had Madeleine not invited her to her “Beautiful mulatto marriage”, as his mother called him?
The wound of friendship is rekindled. Especially since Madeleine’s secret features a mysterious Cynthia, described as the “best friend” she has ever had, and a dark encounter with a white soldier. What to do with this enigmatic confidence? A novel, of course, but which one? The narrator, in the grip of doubts about her literary qualities, as a mother, as a lover, confronts the blank page. The past resurfaces. The poor child still sleeps in her, ashamed that her illiterate mother thus endures the absence of the father and the deceit of the son. She then remembers the outstretched hand of Madeleine, the doctor’s daughter, to “Negress” from the city.
And if Madeleine, the absent person so present, continued to watch over her, thus indicating her ” value “, pushing her to “To be fulfilled” ? What if, during all these years, the narrator had tried to make her “Better” for “Satisfy her” ? This belief galvanizes her.
She associates her daughters with her quest for inspiration. Nina, independent and free-spirited, was Cynthia’s age at the time of the incident. His youngest, Eunice, gifted, methodically collects the clues. The “beautiful story” leads them in the footsteps of Madeleine’s famous friend, while a drama recalls the narrator and her daughters in Martinique.
As in The End of Mame Baby, first original and mastered novel awarded a 2017 Wepler prize with special mention from the jury, Gaël Octavia, also playwright (The Voyage, This War We Did Not Fight, Rhapsody…), Talks about the links that unite women in the face of patriarchy, love, exile, transmission.
This vibrant and sensual novel also introduces you to the symbolism of skin color nuances in Martinique. We enter with delight in the skin of the narrator, who plays with self-mockery the codes of autofiction.