A New York Times Notable Book
A Library Journal Best Book of 2021
A “marvelous…superbly effective” (The New Yorker) debut novel about a young woman coming of age with a dazzling yet damaged mother who lived and loved in extremes.
Met by rave reviews in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and more, this stunning translation of Violaine Huisman’s “witty, immersive autofiction showcases a Parisian childhood with a charismatic, depressed parent” (Oprah Daily). Beautiful and magnetic, Catherine, a.k.a. “Maman,” smokes too much, drives too fast, laughs too hard, and loves too extravagantly, and her daughter Violaine wouldn’t have it any other way.
But when Maman is hospitalized after a third divorce and a breakdown, everything changes. Even as Violaine and her sister long for their mother’s return, once she’s back Maman’s violent mood swings and flagrant disregard for personal boundaries soon turn their home into an emotional landmine. As the story of Catherine’s own traumatic childhood and adolescence unfolds, the pieces come together to form an indelible portrait of a mother as irresistible as she is impossible, as triumphant as she is transgressive.
With spectacular ferocity of language, a streak of dark humor, and stunning emotional bravery, The Book of Mother is an exquisitely wrought story of a mother’s dizzying heights and devastating lows, and a daughter who must hold her memory close in order to surrender, and finally move on.