Today dear readers I am on the blog tour for Born Of No Woman (Published 21 October 2021) By Franck Bouysse (translated from the French by Lara Vernaud) A big thank you to the publishers Weidenfeld & Nicolson for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated. Also to the lovely Anne for the invite and who makes being a part of this community truly an honour.
Born Of No Woman
Before he is called to bless the body of a woman at the nearby asylum, Father Gabriel receives a strange, troubling confession: hidden under the woman’s dress he will find the notebooks in which she confided the abuses she suffered and the twisted motivations behind them.
And so Rose’s terrible story comes to light: sold as a teenage girl to a rich man, hidden away in a old manor house deep in the woods and caught in a perverse web, manipulated by those society considers her betters.
A girl whose only escape is to capture her life – in all its devastation and hope – in the pages of her diary…
About The Author
Franck Bouysse is a French author. His novels Grossir le ciel in 2014, Plateau in 2016 and Glaise in 2017 have met with wide success and won a vast array of literary awards. Previously a teacher of biology and horticulture, Bouysse lives in the south-west of France.
BORN OF NO WOMAN has won every prize awarded by readers in France, including the GRAND PRIX DES LECTRICES ELLE, one of the most important prizes in France. It has also won THE PRIX DES LIBRAIRES (given by booksellers), PRIX PSYCHOLOGIES MAGAZINE and the PRIX BABELIO.
Father Gabriel is told in confession that he will soon be called to the nearby asylum to bless the body of a deceased woman. Under her dress he will find hidden notebooks which contain a most disturbing account of events that will shock and sicken you. In the notebooks Rose finally tells of the years of abuse she suffered and the perverted motivation behind it all. Father Gabriel blesses the body and takes the two notebooks with him, concealing them as he leaves. The notebooks are numbered 1 and 2, he reads them front to back and is traumatised by Rose’s story.
Rose has spent years waiting for this moment, every day she readied herself to put things in order, to sort out her ideas and write her story down on actual paper. The friendly nurse Génie who works in the asylum has given her two notebooks so now she can tell her story. She doubts that anyone will likely ever read them but that’s not important. What matters is for once she will get to the end without anyone stopping her, she refuses to back down. She’s thought a lot about what to write first, which part to start at. She decides on the moment she understood that she was leaving one world for another without anyone asking her. She has just turned 14 when her father sells her to the blacksmith, a fat sweaty mess of a man who takes her to his manor house, Les Forges where he lives with his mother, the Old Lady. Rose describes the manor house like a castle and begins to imagine all manner of things that would happen but it’s never as bad as what she actually has to endure. The fat man tells her to call him Master and she is to obey everything ‘We’ say. At the time Rose doesn’t understand the ‘We’ reference but quickly sees it relates to the Old Lady. The Old Lady tells Rose that she is under the blacksmith’s roof now, that he owns Les Forges and she belongs to him. She is told what is expected of her, she is to become their maid. They warn her they won’t tolerate any dereliction of duty and she will be punished if she steps out of line. Rose works to the best of her ability but no matter what, the Old Lady always finds fault with something. Rose also learns that the Master’s wife is ill and is kept locked away upstairs in her room which she is forbidden to ever enter.
On her first day Rose meets Edmond in the kitchen who is the gardener and horse groomer among other things. Rose describes him as not old or young but between the two. There’s something that fascinates her about him, she begins to feel urges and a desire to be held in his big strong arms. However Edmond is not all he seems to be and is hiding his own dark secrets that will literally leave you with your jaw on the floor. I never suspected it dear reader and was completely, utterly stunned when I learned the truth. Trust me, you don’t see it coming.
No matter how hard Rose works she is constantly shouted at by the Old Lady calling her incompetent, an insolent brat. The Master watches her and makes her feel uncomfortable with his leers. Little does she know what the pair have planned for her. When I read that harrowing scene, I felt physically sick and cried for Rose. She is a young girl and yet she is subjected to such horrific abuse that no human should ever have to suffer. It makes you angry and you find yourself grabbing the book in frustration, wanting Rose to escape and gain her freedom.
Rose is a strong, remarkable character. You keep forgetting at times that she is only 14 as she acts more mature for her age. She tells people she is 16 in hopes they won’t see or treat her like a child. She tells herself to stop crying, that the life she had before on the farm with her family has stopped. She will never again shed a tear for anything or anyone. She doesn’t want to die of despair so young and needs to destroy the 14 year old girl she was if she is to survive her captors. She refuses to let it end this way and promises to fight. It breaks your heart to read of a young girl’s youth being stolen from her and forced into a life of pain and misery. You hold on to the hope, the same hope that Rose has that somehow she will be free again.
I give Born Of No Woman By Franck Bouysse a Five out of Five paw rating.
Twisted and brutal I had to finish what I started. Bouysse pulled me into a dark haunted world where the only sign of hope was in the form of a young 14 year old girl. A girl who was forced to become a woman in order to survive all manner of horror that was inflicted upon her. A girl who refused to give up, or give in to evil. A girl who will always be a fighter and a remarkable woman.
There are a lot of uncomfortable and unspeakable scenes in this book with themes of rape and abuse that may be triggering for some. There are times you want to look away and can’t believe what you are reading but you feel compelled by Rose’s strength to continue with her. To find out if she gets her freedom and escapes. I HAD to know, I owed it to her. Trust me dear reader, you need to learn of Rose’s story, it will open your eyes in more ways than one.
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!
Hop hop wiggle wiggle