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In this haunting novel, a young nurse forms an unlikely connection with the elderly man she cares for, and finds herself confronting the guilt she carries from her past
Marguerite Demers is twenty-five when she leaves Paris for the sleepy southern village of Saint Sulpice to take up a job as a live-in nurse. Her charge is Jerome Lanvier--once one of the most powerful men in the village, now dying alone in his large and secluded house surrounded by rambling neglected gardens. Manipulative and tyrannical, Jerome has scared away all of his previous caretakers.
It's not long before the villagers have formed opinions of Marguerite. Brigitte Brochon, pillar of the community and local busybody, finds her arrogant and mysterious and is desperate to find a reason to have her fired. Glamorous outsider Suki Lacourse sees Marguerite as an ally in a sea of small-minded provincialism. Local farmer Henri Brochon, husband of Brigitte, feels sorry for her and wants to protect her from the villagers' intrusive gossip and speculation (but Henri has a secret of his own that would scandalize his neighbors, if only they knew). The sudden arrival of Jerome's three sons will upend the rhythm of their days, changing their lives forever.
Set among the lush fields and olive groves of southern France, and written in clear prose of luminous beauty, Marguerite is an unforgettable novel that traces the ways in which guilt can be transformed, and how people can unexpectedly find a sense of redemption.
About the Author
Marina Kemp was born in London, where she lives now with her husband and daughter. She studied Classics at Oxford University, and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths. Marguerite is her first novel.
"[A] stellar debut. Precise, distinctive prose…and well-drawn characters make this satisfying tale all the more memorable. Expect Kemp to make a big splash." —Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Kemp writes with a careful restraint that makes the emotional explosions all the more powerful when they come.” —Kirkus (starred)
"Moody, suspenseful, and altogether absorbing." —Booklist
"Breathtaking. Not one thing that happened was predictable, and yet everything was inevitable, and still, the ending astonished me. This is a beautifully human book, full of compassion for our foibles, tenderness for our pain, and generosity for every misguided, confusing, honest decision any of us have ever made." —Robin Oliveira, New York Times bestselling author of Winter Sisters
"Extraordinary. Richly atmospheric and beautifully paced... I loved it." —Jo Baker, author of Longbourne
"An engrossing, mysterious, tender and disquieting book, alive to the agony of private sorrow … a debut of real significance." —Edmund Gordon, author of The Invention of Angela Carter
"Secrets and lies, despair and rebirth as a patriarch dies in rural France. An exquisitely-observed debut from a writer to watch." —Francis Spufford, author of Golden Hill
"With consummate skill and perfect pacing Kemp unveils surprising secrets and casts a direct and penetrating gaze on the ambiguous sexuality and the guilt that underlies our actions. An unusually accomplished first novel." —Sheila Kohler, author Once We Were Sisters