Jean-Baptiste Andrea:Veiller sur elle [Watch Over Her]

The latest addition to my website is Jean-Baptiste Andrea‘s Veiller sur elle [Watch Over Her]/. This novel won the Prix Goncourt in 2023. It tells the story iof Mimo (real name Michelangelo), son of sculptor, who is apprenticed to a family friend and soon proves better than his master, to the latter’s annoyance. They settle in a village ruled by the rich aristocratic Orsinis and Mimo is soon having a non-romantic friendship with Viola Orsini, who is the same age as him. She wants to break free from the restrictions on the daughter of aristocrats and, among other things, to be a pilot (this is during WW1). Mimo will gradually go on to be a great sculptor, even working with the Fascists, the Orsinis and the Vatican, though remaining his own man. We know from the beginning of the book that he will spend the last forty years of his life in monastery, dying aged ninety-two. We will also know he has created a controversial Pietà, rejected by the Vatican and now hidden in the monastery and we follow his career up to the creation of the Pietà. It is a long and complex novel with a variety of plot twists and many characters though Mimo and Viola and their complex and not always successful attempts to be what they want to be remain the focus of what is a very fine novel.

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