Some Reason to Live

Original title: Une certaine raison de vivre

Publication Date:

August 2021



Original language and publisher

French | Robert Laffont

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia


Literary Fiction

Some Reason to Live

Original title: Une certaine raison de vivre


Trees, trenches, and poetry: the story of one man’s torments and the hope the world has to offer.

Jean Fournier is a lonely young man traumatized by the Great War. Before the war, he loved nature and his long walks in the French Alps, and in 1913, he met a strange shepherd who planted trees. After the war, he comes out of the great massacre physically unscathed but crushed inside.

Demoralized, he does everything he can to believe that life is still possible after five years in the infantry seeing and hearing things that a twenty-year-old man should never have to take in. His return to civilian life is (despite himself) a triumph. He finds a low-level job at the Comptoir National d’Escompte bank, but quickly climbs the ranks when he falls in love with Alice, the beloved and sole daughter of the bank’s director. Jean strives his hardest to prove himself worthy of this new-found love, but the war keeps eating away at him like a nasty disease. Despite his efforts, Alice watches him sink into depression. From husband and wife, they become lover and mistress by the brute force of circumstances.

So Jean abandons himself to what he knows best: writing. He meets actors and, as Paris lights up the world in the Roaring Twenties, tries alongside them to exorcise the demons of the war following him like a mangy dog. One day, his survival instinct pushes him to return to the shepherd’s fields and retrace the footsteps of the young man he once was, and still is deep inside. There, far from the mad world, he realizes that the hermit shepherd has continued his work and is astonished to see how the region has transformed through the work of a single recluse. And then, just when Jean swore he would never touch a weapon again, another war is brewing. What should he do? The shepherd once told him that it takes time before a tree no longer fears anything. Will the man married to the rhythm of the trees manage to escape it all? Has the sap finally done its work?