With Rat, Eberstadt has found a new setting she knows well, the South of France, and the story she tells is original, powerful, and heartrendingabout a childs search for a father she has never known.
Of The Furies, Fernanda Eberstadts last novel, Alexandra Jacobs wrote in the New York Observer that it veers pretty close to genius . . . Eberstadt is an expert, sensual, and at times truly breathtaking conjurer of New York City. With Rat, Eberstadt has found a new setting she knows well, the South of France, and the story she tells is original, powerful, and heartrendingabout a childs search for a father she has never known.
Rat is fifteen-year-old Celia Bonnet, who lives with her unmarried mother, Vanessa, a free-spirited local beauty, in a farmhouse compound with other single-parent families in the Pyrénées Orientales, a gorgeous but forlorn Mediterranean no-mans-land just north of the Spanish Catalan border. Rat is the result of a one-night encounter between Vanessa and Gillem, the son of a London model from the 1960s, who used to spend summers in the area and whom Rat has never spoken to or met. But when Vanessas current boyfriend starts preying on Morgan, the orphaned nine-year-old who is Rats adopted brother, she decides to take Morgan and run away to her father in London. As the novel unfolds, the two children undertake a difficult journey to find the man who might finally explain to Rat who she is and where she belongs.
This is an enthralling novel with a luminous sense of placeboth physical and emotionaland, at its core, a bold, engaging young heroine for our times.
The first time she is conscious of seeing her motherwhom shed thought as much a part of herself as the scar on her forehead or her broken front toothjudged by a strangers eyes.
Vanessa is taking Rat and the neighbors kids to the beach. To get to the beach from their place, you have to cross a highway. Its not a megahighwaythere are only two lanesbut its the kind of dead-straight, flat-as-a-pancake, five-kilometer stretch where drivers like to pretend theyre practicing for the ParisDakar. Theres a culvert that runs under the highway, which is where you are supposed to cross, but after its rained, the tunnel goes knee-deep in black mud. So Vanessa has made the kids scramble up the embankment, and now is urging them across the road.
Theres nothing hurried about Rats mothers approach: she is strolling right into the threat of fast traffic, willing any oncoming cars to halt. Solenne...
Once in a while a book comes along that I simply love. I sink into the story and am carried away for hours into another world and another life. I reach the end feeling that I have been on vacation. Rat did that for me. Here at BookBrowse, we recommend books that entertain and inform. I did learn some things: the various winds of the Pyrenees Orientales region stand out in my mind. But most of all I was entertained by this modern day fairy tale.
(Reviewed by Judy Krueger).
Full Review (719 words).
"The Pyrenees-Orientales is the Command Center of winds. Here they all congregate, quarrel, barter and rule. There are said to be 119 different winds in the Pyrenees-Orientales. (If you could sell wind we'd be rich, people used to say in the days before the foothills got sown with rows of gigantic new turbines, without bringing a marked improvement to anybody's fortunes."
p.27 of Rat.
Here are five of those winds:
The Tramontane: Dry, cold and often violent, carrying air from polar regions. In summer it brings clear blue skies and relief from the heat. In winter it just brings cold air. If the weather over the Mediterranean Sea is perturbed the Tramontane can cause heavy rain: Quan plou ...
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