I have had this book for more than two years now and I got it for under a dollar/pound/euro – brand new might I add! This was a period in my life where I wanted to get different genres of books to read. I have been reading memoirs and non-fiction (mental health) books for a while now and I cannot believe that I have read this book just now! I have to add that I got an ARC of ‘Based on a True Story’ by the same author and that pushed me to read ‘Nothing Holds Back the Night’ and I am so glad I read it. I just devoured this novel, it was fascinating and haunting and much more.
This is a memoir/non-fiction book about Delphine de Vigan’s mother, Lucile Poirier told from the authors perception of her (with the help of some people who I will mention at the end). The novel is told in three parts: first part is about Lucile’s childhood, the second part is Lucile as an adolescent and the third part is Lucile with her children all grown up and their relationships. You should know that this book begins on a sad note and the sadness weaves its hands through the whole novel. Delphine finds her mother unconscious in her apartment and with this we begin our journey through the life of Lucile and the way her child writes about her. Lucile (one of nine children) was a child model, she was doing photoshoots for ads and was always the pretty one in the family but behind that beauty was an introverted child who loved spending days reading books and watching people from a distance. At a very young age her father Georges noticed that she was different from his other children. As we slowly make progress into this book we learn that her family is cursed with tragedy. At the age of nineteen she had married twenty-one year old Gabriel, one of her fathers work colleagues’ son, and got Delphine – with this she began to drift away from her family – she was now a woman who had to take care of her daughter. She was a young, beautiful mother who always turned heads and amazed anyone with whom she crossed paths with. I feel while writing this that I’m doing a poor job describing this book for which I apologise because there’s a lot of happenings in this book. She had another child, Manon who is four years younger than Delphine. Her marriage with Gabriel didn’t work out (as do all rushed marriages) but she still had a few relationships after her split from her husband. What we find out is that Lucile has a bipolar disorder (manic depression) and how it affects her life and the lives of her children. Her children had to witness her lows and highs at a very young age and in a way had their childhood taken away from them. It was upsetting reading about how Lucile’s personality changed when she was having her episodes. Delphine de Vigan has written this book with the help of her sister’s recollection of their mother and the brothers and sisters of her mother – this made the story more complete and raw because it painted a complex study of Lucile’s life and psyche. Saying anything further will just ruin your experience with this book.
I read this book fairly quickly because of the subject matter and because it was something that interested me. Delphine de Vigan also includes her struggles and worries about writing this book into this memoir which I appreciated. I also appreciate her sharing the story of Lucile who was a really interesting person and reading about her made me have a better outlook on life and family relationships. This novel is really powerful and it should be read by everyone.
Delphine de Vigan is an award-winning French novelist. She has published several novels for adults. Her breakthrough work was the book No et moi (No and Me) that was awarded the Prix des Libraires (The Booksellers’ Prize) in France in 2008.
In 2011, she published a novel Rien ne s’oppose a la nuit (Nothing holds back the night) that is dealing with a family coping with their mother’s bipolar disorder. In her native France, the novel brought her a set of awards, including the prix du roman Fnac (the prize given by the Fnac bookstores) and the prix Renaudot des lycéens.