“Strange heights”, by Laurent Seyer: good people

strange heights

by Laurent Seyer

Finitude, 256 p., €19

Do we really know our parents? This question is not easy for anyone. It’s even less so when you lost your father at the age of five and your mother hasn’t told everything about their story. Laurent Seyer, a former banker who now devotes himself to writing, has undertaken to explore his family past and tell it in the form of a novel. “It is indeed the father whose life deprived me who lives in these pages. They do not simply recall his memory, but offer him a new life, a prodigy that only the novel, where everything is true even what is invented, could achieve and thanks to which, more than fifty years after his death, finally, I I am no longer an orphan. »

The originality of Laurent Seyer’s book is to lead two stories in parallel but in reverse chronologies. One dedicated to his father, follows real time; the other, dedicated to his mother, starts from 2016 and goes back to 1949. When their lives come together.

A harrowing tale of survival

The paternal account actually covers a brief period. It is devoted almost entirely to a few days in the summer of 1944. Jean, a young maquisard in Oisans, was seriously injured and had to have his leg amputated. To escape German reprisals, he was transported into the mountains and left alone for several days in a makeshift shelter. The story of this survival is gripping and poignant.

The mother, she survived for a long time the death of Jean, who died of a heart attack in 1970. Odette never wanted to remarry, raising four children alone, driven by a deep faith. She was not comfortable with Marian piety but recited the rosary. “By dint of repeating these words that did not come from her, she found there the peace that the spirit of childhood provides. » A phrase that speaks well of the touching sobriety of a story that celebrates good people.

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