A deeply felt memoir from the wife of a cartoonist killed in the 2015 Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack.
One winter Wednesday in Paris, French journalist Wolinski was swiftly and savagely widowed after 47 years of marriage. Her husband was the well-known Georges Wolinski (1934-2015), the oldest cartoonist on the staff of the renowned satirical newspaper. On Jan. 7, Georges, leaving their apartment, called out to his wife, “darling, I’m going to Charlie.” Soon, he and 11 others were murdered by a pair of terrorist brothers to redress the publication’s cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. Relying on eyewitnesses, social media, and her memory, the author writes passionately of the assault and the days following. Early on, she wasn’t alerted to the killings. As the scene filled with police, reporters, and politicians, she wondered why Georges didn’t call to arrange a meeting that afternoon to view an apartment. She learned of the attack from a sympathetic taxi driver and of the death of her husband by a phone call from her son-in-law. Charlie Hebdo had been threatened before, but it was ill-equipped, even a bit lax, in its defense. Wolinski has little sympathy for the police, who, at union insistence, had reduced surveillance. The first responders consisted of two sparsely armed policemen on bicycles. Authorities did not call to inform her and did not tell her where her husband’s remains were taken. In a final affront, his name was misspelled on a memorial plaque at the offices. Ultimately, the author was able to draw solace from the many loving Post-it notes her husband habitually left for her throughout their apartment. No more than a day’s reading, Wolinski’s moving story will resonate with anyone who has unexpectedly lost a loved one.
A brief, affecting Gallic story of an enduring marriage that ended in senseless tragedy.