Praise & Reviews For The Confidant

Publishers Weekly

Set in Paris in 1975, Gremillon’s absorbing debut begins when Camille Werner receives a long, unsigned, handwritten letter among the condolence notes after her mother’s death. Already in a state of shock, both from the unexpected death and from breaking up with her boyfriend after his casual mention of not wanting children when Camille told him she was pregnant, Camille becomes fascinated with the correspondent’s tale of a budding romance between two teenage friends, Annie and Louis, in a small town on the cusp of WWII. Camille becomes convinced that it is this Louis who wrote to her, though she assumes her receipt of the missives is a mistake. In subsequent letters (which are differentiated from Camille’s narrative by the use of fonts), Louis spins his tale of a love that became doomed when Annie was befriended by a young, wealthy, and unhappy Parisian couple. As a book editor, Camille wonders if Louis (who never signs the letters) is trying to wangle a publishing contract. But when he reveals that Annie has a daughter born around the time of Camille’s own birth, Camille becomes obsessed with locating Louis and getting the whole story behind his letters. Finely written, unabashedly romantic, and full of twists, this novel will grip readers until the end.”

***

Kirkus

 “From French writer Grémillon, an impressive first novel, a tale of love, infidelity, jealousy and guilt presented in a manner that grows in suspense and surprises right up to the very end.

When Camille Werner’s mother dies in 1975, she finds among the condolence letters a long letter from a stranger narrating a story that bears no apparent relation to her or her mother, so she naturally thinks the writer must have made a mistake in addressing it to her. As the letters continue coming regularly every week, she begins to believe it is a work of fiction that an aspiring author is sending her in epistolary installments as a way to get her attention. Camille is an editor at a publishing house, so she is intrigued by this unusual but plausible explanation. Then, as the story continues, she recognizes odd little clues that force her to realize the letters are indeed meant for her and are not fiction, but are in fact the story of her family and her conception, especially poignant insofar as she is herself pregnant. The story of Camille’s family, set in France in the early years of World War II, is told by three authentic, distinct voices. The transitions flow naturally from one to the other with musical precision and harmony, until Camille adds her own reactions and revelations to move the narrative on to the next verse.
A poetic novel.”

***

“Hélène Grémillon’s debut, The Confidant, is a mystery full of passion and heartbreak underscored by the fearful uncertainty of life in Nazi-occupied France.”

“Alison Anderson’s seamless translation allows the terse voices of Grémillon’s characters to shine through with all their passion, envy and betrayal. This promising beginning from a new talent will keep readers guessing until its startling finale.”
Shelf Awareness

***

“The Confidant is an impressive blend of historical precision, high suspense and sharp-sighted psychological truths. A gorgeous, captivating novel with brilliant storytelling. It’s a novel that will stay with me.”
Amanda Hodgkinson, New York Times bestselling author of 22 Britannia Road

***

“Captivating and haunting, the passion and heartache absolutely leap off the page in Hélène Grémillon’s The Confidant . The first thing you’ll want to do after finishing, is to flip to the first chapter and start reading it all over again, combing for overlooked clues.”
Sarah Jio, author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March

***

“Succumb to a very French story and allow yourself to be seduced by Hélène Grémillon’s serpentine tale of wartime passion and revenge. As the past intensifies its grip on a young woman’s present, shifting perspectives exert an irresistible pull. Direct, unsettling and atmospheric.”
Deborah Lawrenson, author of The Lantern

***

“Helene Gremillon tells her heartrending tale of human frailty, cruelty and love in prose of subtle elegance, and her flawed, fascinating characters stayed with me long after I’d finished the book. This is poised and beautiful storytelling.”
Margaret Leroy, author of The Soldier’s Wife

***

“The Confidant is a must read for anyone who loves intrigue. It will keep you guessing until the very last page – beautifully written, original and thoroughly engaging.”
Sandra Smith, translator of Suite Française

***

« Hélène Grémillon takes us to the heart of a family secret. We witness undeclared love, hidden hatreds, and revenge with terrible consequences. She writes of two periods in time in two voices. And we are twice as caught up in this book which truly touches our hearts. »
ELLE (France)

***

« The reader is literally riveted to this story, both thriller and historical account. The text has accents of maturity, a stunning mastery of narration, a sense of suspense worthy of a top-notch film. A gripping first novel. »
Le Figaro Litteraire

***

« Hélène Grémillon: remember this name! Scrupulously written, with fine and harmonious phrasing that renders the heroines’ voices perfectly. »
Le Point

***

« Hélène Grémillon’s talent bursts forth in this first novel, as much for the style as the historical details and the suspense that persists up to the very last paragraph. As for the main characters… they are all complex, unpredictable and above all charismatic. »
Le Nouvel Observateur

***

“This most assured first novel is structured like a series of matryoshka dolls; as we start reading, stories within stories are revealed until we are finally faced with the gem at the centre. Grémillon’s conclusion to what is both mystery story and romance is an absolute crackerjack.”
The Saturday Age (Australia)

***

“Sensitively written, it is a suspenseful, absorbing tale about the power of history and how it plays on the present.”
Herald on Sunday (Australia)

***

“A truly compelling read.”
Grazia (Australia)

***

“Step back in time with this intriguing French mystery… Grémillon expertly builds the psychological suspense.”
Courier Mail (Australia)

***

“A novel about the complicity between history with a small ‘h’ — the characters’ stories—and History with a capital ‘H.’ As in Bernard Schlink’s The Reader, nothing is more moving than to witness characters as castaways shipwrecked by History
BSC News (France)

***

“The cinematic rhythm is thrilling. A triumph.”
Paris Match Belgium (France)