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L’événement by Annie Ernaux Review

Title: L’événement

Author: Annie Ernaux

First published March 14, 2000

130 pages, Pocket Book

ISBN: 9782070419234 (ISBN10: 2070419231)

Rating: 4.34


For years, I have circled around this pivotal event in my life. Reading about someone else’s experience of loss and grief makes me feel as though I am reliving my own trauma, the words transforming into a jarring physical sensation.

Even hearing a familiar tune from that time, like La Javanaise or J’ai la mémoire qui flanche, grips me with a profound sense of emotion. In L’événement, Annie Ernaux shares her own story of a life-changing event, offering a powerful and moving account of the complexities of memory, regret, and resilience.

About the Author

Annie Ernaux, a renowned French writer, received the prestigious Prix Renaudot award in 1984 for her memoir La Place. The book chronicles her childhood in a small French town, her relationship with her father, and her transition into adulthood as she moved away from her parents’ hometown.

Ernaux’s exceptional literary talent has now been recognized with the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Editoral Review

Annie Ernaux’s “L’Événement” is a powerful memoir that delves deep into the author’s personal history and bears witness to a turning point in French society. Ernaux is a renowned French novelist and autobiographer whose works often reflect on the social and cultural changes in post-WWII France.

In this work, she recounts the events surrounding her decision to terminate a pregnancy in 1963, during a period in which abortion was illegal in France. The book is a poignant reflection on the nature of memory, identity, and social norms.

Ernaux’s vivid descriptions of her experience give readers an intimate understanding of the emotional and psychological trauma that comes with making such a difficult decision. Her writing is raw and unflinching, driving home the harsh reality of living in a society that shames women who seek reproductive autonomy.

Ernaux’s “L’Événement” is a powerful example of the memoir genre at its best. Her writing is both poetic and brutally honest, making for a compelling read from beginning to end.

In addition to its literary merits, the book is also historically significant. It shines a light on the struggle for reproductive rights in France and offers insight into the cultural and social changes that paved the way for a more progressive society.

One of the book’s major strengths is the way Ernaux weaves together her personal story with the larger historical and cultural context. She provides readers with a gripping portrayal of life in 1960s France, capturing the political and social upheavals of the time.

Her characters are fully fleshed out, and readers will feel a deep connection with them as they navigate the challenges of living in a repressive society. However, the book’s pacing can occasionally drag, and readers may find themselves losing focus as Ernaux shifts back and forth between the past and present.

Additionally, the book is heavily focused on Ernaux herself, which may not be to everyone’s taste. Nevertheless, it remains a poignant and emotionally charged work that is well worth reading.

In conclusion, Annie Ernaux’s “L’Événement” is a powerful, beautifully written memoir that offers insight into the struggle for reproductive autonomy in France. It is a moving, intimate portrait of a turning point in French history and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Readers who appreciate deeply personal, introspective writing will find much to admire here. Despite some pacing issues, this book is an important work that deserves a place on any critical reader’s bookshelf.

4/5 stars.

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