The Art of Consolation

Original title: Consolation

Publication Date:

October 2020



Original language and publisher

French | Les Arènes

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia


Essay, Memoir

The Art of Consolation

Original title: Consolation


A profoundly humane account of pain and consolation.

Thaïs was a perfectly normal little girl of two when her mother realized there was something odd about the way she walked. Doctors soon diagnosed an incurable condition that led to her death just a few months later. Anne-Dauphine then learned that the unborn child she was carrying had the same genetic condition. Azylis underwent a transplant shortly after birth and lived to be ten, when the disease caught up with her.

“I have suffered, and still suffer, a great deal. But I have learned the art of consolation—a delicate manner of being with other people. An approach, a touch, a word”.

The book evokes both the consoler and the consoled. Anne-Dauphine draws on episodes from her own life to share her thoughts, that always go straight to the heart. She pays homage to her beloved daughters, Thaïs and Azylis, as well as to her husband Loïc and her two surviving sons, Gaspard and Arthur. Her account is also a heartfelt expression of gratitude to everything that brings consolation: the sister who offers a hug, the nurse who sits on the side of the bed and takes the time just to be there, a dab of nail varnish that lifts the spirits when everything seems bleak. She has a talent for painting brief vignettes of life that are simply unforgettable.

Anne-Dauphine Julliand knows that she will always bear her pain, but also that it can be tamed. When people ask her how she carries on when she is sad, she replies one thing never fails: she cries. Her words are a simple yet profound guide showing readers the path to consolation. Anyone who reads it will never again hesitate to hug someone in pain.