Bestselling French author Orban debuts here with luminous musings on the death of her sister, forming an elegy for a time and place as well as a person.
The author recalls growing up in Morocco, vividly describing childhood in her family’s city house on the Atlantic coast and at the country estate where her father hunted and she rode horses. She also movingly describes her love for her sister Corinne, nicknamed Maco, and her continuing sorrow over Maco’s loss: “Without warning she left me weighed down with memories, sole guardian of our secrets big and small.” Christian and wealthy, Christine and Maco enjoy fishing at night, hunting scorpions, and training the family animals. But their childhood is shadowed by a looming separation: there is no university in Morocco, and the time is drawing near for Christine, four years older than Maco, to leave her sister for Paris. While she moves on, Maco remains faithful to their idyllic childhood world of beaches and sunrises. Though as an adolescent she has many boyfriends, often climbing out of the house to meet them, at 16 Maco marries Kassim, a much older Muslim man. He is unfaithful, and Maco divorces him; under Moroccan law, she then cannot see her two much-loved children. She remarries and in her 30s, against her doctor’s advice, gets pregnant again. Christine, who now lives in Paris, comes home with her husband one evening to hear their babysitter tell her she must call Morocco at once; there is an emergency. When she calls she learns that Maco is dead. Orban wrote this, she explains, so that she could talk to and about the sister she loved as a friend as well as a sibling.
Grief perfectly pitched. (Photos throughout)