Today, I’m going to speak about Les Belles Vies by Benoît Minville, a French author that I appreciate a lot. I discovered him in Le Géant who had been a real favorite and then I found him in Je suis ta fille, a good novel also. In the book of today, Vasco and Djib are two inseparable boys from the suburbs, are sent for a summer pension in the heart of the Nièvre … A shock of cultures, with flamboyant characters.
This is the beginning of « holidays » that have totally changed their lives ! Youth people from the stuborn who annoy old ladies on buses, Vasco, of Portuguese origin, and Djib, of African origin, find themselves in a hole lost at the bottom of the Nièvre, with sausage and cows. And some racists. They landed in the house of « Tonton and Tata », respectively 80 and 60 years, who welcomed more than fifty children in their life. Among those present that summer, there are Dylan, an apprentice to a butcher, who has great difficulty in containing a violent temperament, and Jessica, a bimbo who spins a bad cotton. They are brother and sister abandoned by a mother unable to look after them. There is also Chloé, a hippie, pationnated by theater, her past remains a mystery for us. And many other small children, some broken by life, others from former residents of Tonton and Tata. All this little world will spend the summer together, they will learn to cohabit, to discover themselves by spending a maximum of time together. They will do what the children do in holiday camps, bathing, cooking, tinkering, cycling, spending evenings together around a good DVD, like simple children gathered in a holiday home. Vasco and Djib will then discover another form of life and fulfillment in this lost village while encountering quite a lot of difficulties, between the racists of the village, the Dylan’s hot boiling temperament, the conflicts with some other young people of the village not really happy to see these younth of suburbs and the nascent attraction for the girls. Our two boys will have to learn to grow and begin gradually to behave differently than they were before they came. We quickly admire the characters of Tonton and Tata, this couple who is retirement age but who decided to give his love and energy to his children treating like theirs.
The story is simple as life on this farm in the Nièvre where you spend your days preparing meals, gather mushrooms, walk the paths by bike or plunge into the waters of the lake a few kilometers away. What is striking is the sound of the book. the accuracy, the pulsation, the emotion it releases. The text runs, he burns, laughs and the tears come to the eyes, the words are simple, sensitive and generous. To tell you the truth, what initially caught my attention was the fact that this story is happen in the Nièvre. Yes, it should speak to me, since I know rather well the place to live there. I was curious to see how Benoît Minville perceived the region. I have in the book, a familiar atmosphere of rural life. Each member of this « heart » family has its past, its history. The reader attends, silent, the first emotions, the doubts, the evolution of the characters on the road to maturity.Benoît Minville gives us a story full of tenderness and sincerity, with the help of all these destinies struck by life, without, however, embellishing the difficulties that sometimes exist at a very early age. He talks about the social fractures and testimony of a certain talent to tell the jolts of the adolescence. He draws portraits of attracting characters without ever falling into the caricature. This novel, it is a parenthesis out of time, a privileged moment. A summer where wounds begin to heal, even if the path a long. A summer of first time. Little moments of happiness that make everything. It is a novel of tolerance, of life, of humanity, born by true words, in which one senses all the passion, the hope, the tenderness, all the emotions of these children in boiling. A novel of which it would have been desirable that it never end, somewhat like when comes the end of the summer.