Thomas Helder

Author: Barbery, Muriel

Publication Date:

August 2024



Original language and publisher

French | Actes Sud

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia

Territories Sold

English (World) (under option)
Netherlands (under option)


Literary Fiction

Thomas Helder

Author: Barbery, Muriel


Châteauvieux-sur-l’Aubrac – a residence in the middle of the countryside, flattered by the evening lights and that special clarity that comes with snow. The Dutch writer Thomas Helder has just died in his prime. Once the service is over, family and friends gather at the house of his mother’s family where he used to spend his summer holidays as a child and to which he had returned to die like his friend Jean before him.

At the center of this gathering is his oldest friend, Margaux Chanet, Jean’s sister, a renowned French architect who disappeared without a word, from one day to the next, years before, and remained stubbornly absent until this evening of mourning. But now she is once again present, installed in an armchair amid all these people she knows so well. Thomas’s friends and family are gathered affectionately around her, despite her desertion and unacknowledged betrayal of them.

And over the course of the evening, a remarkable dialogue unfolds between her and them, and especially with Jorg, the brother of the deceased who for reasons that gradually become clear speaks to her of a strange and sacred place in the Netherlands – a cabin on the northern coast. At the very boundaries of reality, an unprecedented intimacy arises through this extended conversation in which appearances finally give way to transparency.

During this farewell evening, Muriel Barbery explores the stakes of friendship as a conversation that continues beyond time and borders.

Thomas Helder is Muriel Barbery’s seventh novel, and the third to have been published by Actes Sud after Une rose seule (2020) and Une heure de ferveur (2022).

Other books by this author