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“Clarisse Rivière had never reproached her husband or anyone else for leaving her, for going away, had in fact helped Richard Rivière pack up his things, intent as always on sparing herself no labour, no fatigue, if her labour and fatigue could be of some use to someone.”

Ladivine ~ Marie Ndiaye 

I will say this much, I have no idea what else I feel about this book other than that I deeply enjoyed it. I cannot explain it, in the same way I can’t explain how a Kundera book affects me either. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact emotion you’re left with after such a read and ‘Ladivine’ presents the reader with several.

The story is slightly complicated, or at least I thought it would be; given that there are several characters with the same names, all of whose lives are intermingled and entwined in each others. However, this was Marie Ndiaye’s intention all along, to make you doubt yourself as a reader, present an illusion of confusion, and once you finish the book, you might, like myself, have an epiphanic moment of this realisation.

‘Ladivine’ follows the story of generations of women. Ladivine who is spurned by her daughter, Malinka, for working as a cleaner. Malinka who changes her name to Clarisse to escape her mother’s legacy and builds a secret life of her own. Ladivine, Clarisse’s daughter.

Not only in this book is the prose atmospheric, beautifully translated into English from French (credit to the translator for making this such a lovely read) and the content one that forces you to keep reading for reasons unknown, but Ndiaye is able to seamlessly shock and present the reader with unexpected turns which make the journey even more satisfying.

Why you should read it

  • Longlisted for the Man Booker International 2016
  • If you like thought-provoking, evocative writing
  • If you’re looking for a different take on a “thriller”

Why you shouldn’t read it

  • If you’re looking for a fast-paced read
  • The lack of dialogue and abundance of introspection