True to its title, this novel, which was published as La Tresse in France in 2017, weaves together the stories of three intrepid women living in different countries.
In India, Smita demands a better life for her daughter than the one she has known as a member of the Dalit caste. In Italy, Giulia must secure her family’s future after an accident befalls her father, patriarch of the last traditional hairpiece and wig workshop in Palermo. And in Canada, Sarah faces breast cancer without support. Colombani tells these stories in concise chapters that alternate among the three women's points of view. While most of the novel unfolds in these close third-person perspectives, a few brief interludes, including a prologue and an epilogue, punctuate the narrative with the lyrical first-person voice of a fourth woman, adding even more texture and depth to the already charming story of how these women’s lives connect. Colombani’s prowess as a film and theater writer is on full display. The prose hums along without fuss, and several chapters end with terrific suspense. Only occasionally does the story stall, as when the author shoehorns in exposition to make a point about gender inequality or when she oversteps by making too direct a comparison between characters’ lives. Smita's, Giulia's, and Sarah’s individual stories and how they’re interconnected are strong enough elements on their own without any false equivalencies. While the novel presents a romanticized version of globalization, it’s unapologetic about its agenda of celebrating the bonds of womanhood. The story’s masterful structure and plotting more than make up for the narrative’s rose-colored glasses.
An impeccably crafted love letter to the oft-unseen and ignored work of women across the world.