Original title: Soror

Author: Janin, Mathilde

Publication Date:

March 2021



Original language and publisher

French | Actes Sud

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia


Literary Fiction


Original title: Soror

Author: Janin, Mathilde


As he is leaving a provincial concert venue, classical cellist Jérôme runs into Nicola, whom he has not seen since their schooldays. Back then Nicola and Yaël, Jérôme’s sister, were inseparable. Nicola used to envy Yaël’s daring shoplifting, the trashy charm she oozed as a buxom teenager, and the disconcerting ease with which she made friends with other girls and made out with the boys. Yaël was attracted by Nicola’s haughty beauty, the material comforts of her large and empty estate, and her loner’s melancholy. Now an attractive and enigmatic young woman, Nicola seems to be playing a role in Jérôme’s presence and skating around a shared past full of grey areas.

Meanwhile, many miles away, a musician with a shaven head who goes by the name of Légion is travelling through France and performing in bars. In the back of her van there are various musical instruments, clothes and accessories for taking on other identities, and a mattress for the nights when she can’t afford the hotel room. Next to her on the passenger seat, with her feet on the dashboard, is the ever-loyal Rita.

It seems that the missing pieces in this jigsaw are the children learning the violin in a castle surrounded by high walls, a prematurely deceased brother, a poet in love, an actress whose disappearance is unexplained, a piano teacher with angelic curls, and a little girl who is waiting for her mother long after the school day has ended…

In a melodic and lyrical prose that is also poignant and incisive, Mathilde Janin weaves a web of lies, half-truths and emotional blind spots, blurring perceptions, genres and timelines to evoke the laying to waste of childhood and unspeakable trauma. By placing centre stage two psychologically scarred young women who reject a society that will not let them be free, she invents a poetry of damaged memories to which extraordinary friendships may offer the antidote.