CECILE by Janine Boissard


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A finale to Boissard's quartet of novels about the Moreau family of La Marette--a rambling old house in the suburbs of Paris that's surrounded by walnut trees and packed from rafters to wine cellar with love. This time it's 18-year-old Cecile's time to shine--""Dr. Moreau's number-four daughter, nicknamed the Pest,"" a bleeding heart who struggles, in her own humble way, with the question of evil when she becomes attached to an existentialist playwright and hoodlum named Tanguy Le Floch, and then must turn him in to local authorities (explains an understanding neighbor to a distraught Cecile, ""There are just some bad apples""). Cecile's coming-of-age is further complicated by her fear of sex, rocky relations with mom, her painful realization that she must keep her nose out of other people's business, and her father's sudden death on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, the other Moreau sisters muddle on: Pauline comes to terms with her writer husband's infidelity; Bernadette determines to open a stable; and Claire, ""the Princess,"" keeps the secret of her son's true paternity. But with all this--including the beloved Dr. Moreau's passing--there's a happy ending (sans doute), along with plenty of flourishes for Francophiles, recipes for endive and ham casserole, spaghetti carbonara, and truffle omelette. Boissard and her faithful translator, Mary Feeney, manage a distinctively succinct tone that partly compensates for the ever-present sugarcoating, making this a satisfying, if expectable, end to the series.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1987
Publisher: Little, Brown