The Foundling | Granta

  • Published: 07/02/2013
  • ISBN: 9781846274121
  • 129x20mm
  • 240 pages

The Foundling

Agnès Desarthe

Translated by Adriana Hunter

Jerome is a calm man – at least, that’s what he’d always believed. But when his daughter’s boyfriend dies in an accident, he is overwhelmed by unexpected grief. As he struggles to make sense of the loss and his own reaction to it, he finds himself assailed by emotions and memories he has allowed to lie dormant: the residual feelings for his ex-wife; a baffling new attraction to a stranger; a precarious friendship with a retired policeman; and, above all, unsettling questions about his own past and the family he never knew. In returning to the forests of his childhood and the darkest nights of the second world war, Jerome gradually, painfully begins to piece together the truth of his own origins and the tragedy that his adoptive parents tried to bury.

The Foundling has enough plot to count as a page-turner, yet it still surprises with occasional profundities... Desarthe's portrayal of a young woman devastated by grief is potent... translator Adriana Hunter's rendering of the prose is flawless

Arifa Akbar, Independent

A superb study of grief that is both personal and national; a heartbreaking twist reveals the unspoken origin of Jerome's first name in a country full of buried tragedies. Brilliant and devastating

Kate Saunders, The Times

Desarthe's novel asks how adults and children alike survive emotional pain - through forgetting or remembering? A dream-like book

Adrian Turpin, Financial Times

The Author

Agnés Desathe was born in Paris in 1966 and has written many books for children and teenagers, as well as adult fiction. She won the Prix du Livre Inter in 1996 for Un Secret sans importance and has had two previous novels translated into English: Five Photos of My Wife (Flamingo, 2001), which was short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Jewish Quarterly Fiction Prize, and Good Intentions (Flamingo, 2002).

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The Translator

Adriana Hunter has been working as a literary translator since 1998 and has now translated over 50 books from the French including, for Portobello Books, Véronique Ovaldé’s Kick the Animal Out (a finalist for The French-American Foundation and the Florence Gould Foundation Translation Prize) and And My See-Through Heart. She has three children and lives in Norfolk.

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From the Same Author

Chez Moi

Agnès Desarthe

Myriam’s decision to open a restaurant in her Paris flat is characteristically unexpected and transforms her life in a curious way. For six years, Myriam has been living in self-imposed exile, cut off from her cool, reserved husband and from her son, and the opening night of Chez Moi is typically desolate. But little by little, Myriam’s mouth-watering dishes draw people in, first the florist from across the road, followed by the school children tempted by a four-euro lunch, and then Ben, the most unflappable and devoted of waiters. As the restaurant sizzles towards success, figures and feelings from Myriam’s past also begin to emerge, gradually reawakening her appetite for life, both the bitter and the sweet. Simmering with stories, recipes, observations and dreams, Chez Moi serves up a painfully adult story, with an irresistible sprinkling of wonder and magic.