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A stunning story about finding the courage to speak out against injustice, even when committed by those closest to us.
Camille Kouchner’s childhood was marked by sun-drenched summers in the south of France, where a vibrant cast of family and friends would gather at their Sanary-sur-Mer house. This familia grande, which included much of the country’s elite, spent memorable days and nights laughing, debating, drinking, and dancing. But a long-held secret poisoned Camille’s memories.
In February 2017, Camille returned to Sanary at forty-one to bury her mother, who died with none of her five children present. Her passing would stir up old emotions, ultimately leading Camille to publicly confront the truth.
The Familia Grande poignantly explores the dynamics of abuse, and the questions of guilt and shame surrounding it. Published in France in 2021, the book sparked an important conversation about incest, and the attitudes and laws that have so often allowed influential men to evade consequences for their crimes.
About the Author
Camille Kouchner was born in 1975 in Paris. She is a senior lecturer at the University of Paris with a specialization in labor law. The Familia Grande is her English-language debut.
Adriana Hunter studied French and Drama at the University of London. She has translated more than ninety books, including Marc Petitjean’s The Heart: Frida Kahlo in Paris and Hervé Le Tellier’s The Anomaly and Eléctrico W, winner of the French-American Foundation’s 2013 Translation Prize in Fiction. She lives in Kent, England.
“A book whose tale of incest and abuse is also the unsparing portrait of a prominent French family…breathtaking…powerful.” —New York Times
“Free of voyeurism and elegantly written, The Familia Grande is…an artistic success.” —New York Times Book Review
“[Kouchner’s] memoir…sent shock waves into the heart of the French establishment…Her style is raw, breathless; she doesn’t pull any punches.” —The Guardian
“[A] moving, elegantly written memoir…A cathartic, blisteringly candid family portrait of abuse, dysfunction, and eventual epiphany.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Kouchner risks it all by confronting the truth about her family and her stepfather’s abuse…[She] writes in poetically short sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, helping to soften the raw and difficult subject matter.” —Booklist
“Powerful…[Kouchner] paints a vivid picture of life growing up in a family of champagne socialists.” —Sunday Times (UK)
“[Kouchner] blaz[es] a trail with words, without a single superfluous sentence. The Familia Grande is a shocking account of the mechanisms of control and stifled speech, but above all a poignant and posthumous declaration of love to [her] mother.” —France-Amérique
“Camille Kouchner’s chilling memoir brings to light the incredible violence embedded in the discourse of sexual freedom (as happy, transparent, and consensual) that flourished in a certain segment of French society since the 1970s. Her book, however, also offers us a beautiful reflection on transgenerational trauma, as Kouchner recounts her struggle to prevent the transmission of abuse, silence, and shame, literally but also metaphorically.” —Camille Robcis, author of Disalienation: Politics, Philosophy, and Radical Psychiatry in Postwar France
“The Familia Grande is an artfully written, illuminating, and haunting memoir, reminiscent of Kathryn Harrison’s The Kiss. Camille Kouchner dared to break the silence of her life, and by doing so has created a memorable and moving masterpiece.” —Chloe Caldwell, author of The Red Zone: A Love Story
“A lucid, universal account of the unspeakable…extraordinarily powerful and emotional.” —Elle (France)