When you find a writer whose work you really enjoy, it is a rather sad moment when you have finally read all of their available books. There is, though, an added frustration if the writer is foreign, and there are plenty more titles out there- but which have yet to be translated. Such is the case with one of my favourite writing duos, Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. The authors of the books which formed the basis for Vertigo and Les Diaboliques were prolific, but despite their success, many of their stories have yet to appear in English (which I find very surprising, I must say.). And having stopped studying French at the age of 16, regrettably, I'm not up to reading the originals.
Happily, however, Mrs Edwards is, like our daughter, a more accomplished linguist than me, and she has made her own translation of a very interesting short novel by Boileau and Narcejac, Les Magiciennes, and this is my Forgotten Book for today (though whether it's forgotten in France, I don't know - perhaps not.).
As so often with these writers, the central plot idea is spooky and arresting. The central character, Pierre Doutre, comes from a family which has made its life in the theatrical world. When his father dies, Pierre and his mother (a nicely portrayed character) struggle to come up with a strong enough magic act that will keep them going. And then they come across two identical - and enigmatic - twin girls, with whose help their lives are transformed.
Because the audience does not know that there are two girls who look exactly the same, rather than just one girl, the twins can be employed to produce illusions which cause a sensation. And that's exactly what happens. But when Pierre falls for one of the girls,the complications come thick and fast. This is a book about identity, but it's also a neat and vivid thriller. Apparently, like so many of the authors' stories, it was turned into a film ,but this does not seem to be easy to track down. I'd love to see it one day but in the meantime I enjoyed the novel and I hope that some enterprising publisher makes it more widely available one of these fine days.