Pâqueline. Or the Memoirs of a Monstrous Mother

Original title: La Pâqueline. Ou les mémoires d’une mère monstrueuse

Publication Date:

January 2021



Original language and publisher

Territories Handled

Worldwide excl. French


Historical Fiction

Pâqueline. Or the Memoirs of a Monstrous Mother

Original title: La Pâqueline. Ou les mémoires d’une mère monstrueuse


I loved everything about it. I could copy out the whole book by hand because I loved it so much. And the ending is incredible. Caroline Vallat, FNAC Rosny

A jewel of which there are few of a kind! You want to read it and reread it, to extract all the substantial marrow out of it. — Lydie Zannini, Librairie du Théâtre

I devoured this novel, which seems to walk in the footsteps of Suskind’s fabulous Parfum. […] You are drawn in from beginning to end, even if you have not read L’Embaumeur.  It’s raw, it’s funny, the construction is brilliant. — Elias Fares, librairie Le Chameau sauvage

After the success of The Embalmer, Isabelle Duquesnoy serves up a portrait of an abominably cruel mother, written in a stunning style, like a cross between 18th-century affectation and Rabelaisian excess.

It is an accursed end to the year 1798 for Pâqueline: first, the media frenzy surrounding the trial of her son Victor has saddled her with an abominable reputation. And now, her house has burned down, forcing her to seek clandestine shelter in her son’s apartment. Between job as an embalmer and his organ trafficking, he was earning a pretty penny. Exasperated by both her offspring’s luxurious lifestyle and his whimpering in prison, Pâqueline comes up with a diabolical idea: she’s going to brutally reveal the secrets of her chaotic childhood to him, while robbing him of his wealth… and even of his walls, which she has stripped bare to cover with her writing.

Pâqueline’s page-turner of a tale skitters from laughter to suspense to tragedy, while keeping readers firmly hooked right up to the final dramatic moment. From her childhood, confined in a brothel with her mother, to her youth, irremediably damaged on a Norman farm, to the terrifying discovery of a commerce in human skin used to make mundane items…
Readers will gradually come to understand the life of this damaged woman and the repugnance her son inspires in her. Will he allow her to claw her way back to wealth once again?

Marketing Information

  • 10.000+ copies sold
  • Shortlisted for the Prix Orange du Livre