We read “A sky as blue as a chain” by Valérie Van Oost, a novel in the spotlight

We read “A sky as blue as a chain” by Valérie Van Oost, a novel in the spotlight
We read “A sky as blue as a chain” by Valérie Van Oost, a novel in the spotlight

Marceline Bodier, bookstagrammer and contributor to the 20 Minutes Books reading group, recommends “A Blue Sky Like a Chain” by Valérie Van Oost, published on May 2, 2024 by Éditions La Trace.

His favorite quote:

Is it lying to play a role that was not assigned to us? »

Why this book?

  • Because Kathy and Laure could have met in a poor suburb as children. But Kathy followed a man before working, and Laure studied law before following a man. They should have been on the same side of the fence: that of justice, facing the prisoners. It must be said that Kathy is a mother, and Laure is a lawyer. But they finally meet during police custody: Kathy is arrested, Laure is a court-appointed lawyer. Except that… each recognizes in the other who she could have been. With what consequences?
  • Because Kathy’s story is not unknown to you: it is that of Cathy Sénéchal, to whom The world dedicated a long portrait in 2019 after she “contributed, with a kiss, to the assassination of two figures in the industry at Bastia airport, in December 2017”. She was a prison guard at Borgo, in Corsica. And if this story means something to you, it’s because Stéphane Demoustier has just brought it to the screen in the film Borgo. And if this film is making noise, it’s also because the trial of Cathy Sénéchal begins Monday May 6. Like a little news…
  • Because Valérie Van Oost transposed the story outside Corsica, stripped it of any touting side, and turned its literary spotlight on the confrontation between two women who could have looked alike, but have become as different as possible and instinctively repel each other: the accused, and his lawyer. It starts off badly: Laure wants to turn away, and Kathy “doesn’t want this lawyer who plays the great lady. Clean on it. Not clear inside. » Yet, after all these years of pretending, wasn’t this the meeting they were waiting for without knowing it?
  • Because as usual, Valérie Van Oost’s analyzes are very fine. The angle of the confrontation between two women is not trivial: it is this which allows the novel to move from the news item which captivated the readers of a major newspaper, to a work which delves into what determines us and which makes us free. We think we understand, we understand, but we cannot predict what use each woman will make of her freedom to think and change… and believe me, literature goes much further than reality allows us to imagine.
  • Because this story is an excuse to talk of “real life”, the one to which we all aspire, but which is so difficult to characterize and find… yet, anyone in any environment could tell us “It’s not real life these people there. In any case, it’s not ours! “. Besides, I won’t tell you if it’s Kathy or Laure who hears it. What is certain is that this book is not a novel: it is a metamorphosis. From whom, in what way, read it to find out!

The essentials in 2 minutes

The plot. When Laure, a lawyer, meets Kathy, she knows nothing about her client, except that his gaze transfixes her. But it’s mutual… Kathy has no desire to be defended by a woman who throws success in her face which brings her back to her failures. But why wouldn’t it be the other way around?

Characters. A lawyer who looks like Audrey Fleurot in Engrenages, a matron married to a McGyver lookalike… except for a few details, in both cases. And above all, two women who “both lied to their children”. And that, no TV series can save from the disaster that this causes…

Places. Kathy knows well that prison materializes the barrier between “them” and “us”, and she learns the hard way that this barrier can be crossed – without return. But there is another barrier, inside us… this one is invisible, but that only makes it more difficult to abolish.

The time. At the origin of the book, there are facts dating back to 2017. But when two heroines born in the 1970s confront each other and are forced to finally face their past, an entire era is reborn. Without forgetting the TV series that have rocked us all, of course!

The author. Novel after novel, Valérie Van Oost renews her themes while revealing herself in small touches in very deep characters: childhood friends, parents of an adopted child, fifty-year-olds who reinvent themselves. With a little touch of self-deprecation that I love to find. Looking forward to the next one!

This book was read with the conviction that literature goes much further than everything else. When you understand the richness that transforming an isolated route into an explosive confrontation brings, you will neither return to the cinema nor to reality!

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