I really like Véronique Ovaldé, whom I’ve been reading since her beginnings. I fell in love at first sight with the first novel, Ce que je sais de Vera Candida (2009). Her lively writing, her strong female characters, her thoughts on family… This author, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing in 2016, had everything to please me.

However, the magic did not happen when reading this collection of eight short stories recently published in Quebec. These stories all have a link between them, a thread that runs through them: the main character of one story becomes the secondary character of the next story.

In my favorite short story, “The Man from the Future and the Barbed Wire Girl,” we meet Rachel, a woman who we imagine to be in her early sixties. Newly widowed, she suddenly finds herself in a perilous situation that will have a hilarious outcome. Rachel is by far the most embodied character in the collection and this short story is perfectly mastered. The other short stories are not as successful. The characters are one-dimensional, and we never manage to be interested in what happens to them. As for the narrator who links the short stories, I found her rather boring. Where is Ovaldé’s fantasy? The writing is fine and elegant, but it lacks the rhythm, the contagious energy that would grab the reader.

That said, Ovaldé won the Goncourt for short stories with this collection, which means that the appreciation of a book remains very personal.