The Baby Of Belleville
Every new mother has a story to tell - and this is Jane de la Rochefoucault's. It's a story that contains all the familiar yet magical landmarks of feeding, teething, toddling, and measuring stuff in and out of Tupperware. But, as an expat living in Paris, Jane also faces some challenges they never mention in the handbooks. Such as, how to juggle a new baby with the demands of an aristocratic husband, a competitive nursing circle, an artisan plumber, and a formidably French (and possibly law-breaking) mother-in-law... Swiftly plotted, linguistically playful and sparkling with wit, The Baby of Belleville will draw you into its unique imaginative universe and make you reluctant to leave.
- Paperback | 400 pages
- 129 x 198 x 25mm | 272g
- 07 Jul 2011
- GRANTA BOOKS
- London, United Kingdom
About Anne Marsella
Originally from California's San Joaquin Valley, ANNE MARSELLA now lives in Paris with her husband, a jazz musician, and their son.Her previous books are an acclaimed collection of stories, The Lost and Found and Other Stories (NYU Press), Patsy Boone (Editions de la Difference) and Remedy (Portobello, 2007).
Our customer reviews
I (very reluctantly) finished reading late on Friday evening and I have had foot in Marsella's world ever since. I loved the way the charactersÃ??Ã?Â¢?? apartment seemed to expand magically to incorporate the new kitchen. And, oh my, that Oriental throne!! My favourite chapters are probably the breastfeeding one, plus the one where Jane goes out at night to the bar. And the car in Italy. And the proxy conceptionÃ??Ã?Â¢?Ã??Ã?Â¦ (you have to read it to believe it!) Overall the writing is astonishing clever and inventive, the characters and the plot delicious, and the storytelling and the imagination in a league (not La Leche) of its own. In short, I really, really liked it. Heaps of good stuff on motherhood, heaps of good stuff in general.show moreby Sue Nicho
As an anthropologist, one of the things I like about MarsellaÃ¢??s writing is that it mixes - or plays around with the mixing of - what we call in anthropology Ã¢??binary pairsÃ¢??, sets of opposites or difference. In anthropology these pairs are interesting to us, in part, because we believe that the meaning or significance of an event, an object, a person and so on can be Ã¢??gotten toÃ¢?? by thinking through such pairs, in any number of ways (juxtaposing their elements, bridging them and so forth). And I feel like one of the things Marsella does in her writing is to play with and combine (in interesting ways) such opposed pairs, which she places inside one person, a couple, a place, a story, etc. She also plays around with the Ã¢??sacredÃ¢?? and the Ã¢??profaneÃ¢?? and I like the ways these two realms meet in her work. There are the saints, for example, and various kinds of prayers (to the saints) and magical incantations, objects etc., but she equally preoccupies herself with the everyday and the domestic (cafÃ?Â© meetings, breast feeding, the Parisian neighborhoodÃ¢?Â¦). I like the way Marsella combines these two realms because, of course, they feed one another, the contain one another, they are Ã¢?? in short - dependent on one another. Her work always speaks to me of Ã¢??selfÃ¢?? and Ã¢??otherÃ¢??. Once again, this is my own anthropological reading and an angle that is deeply connected to the above ideas. So often people can only recognize in the other that which they already know in themselves or they are interested in the other in as much as it says something about themselves or serves a personal purpose or feeds a personal desire. I feel so often in American culture that you have a series of monologues walking around (which is why Facebook works so well) and togetherness is then about the assemblage of monologues. And I think one of the things Marsella explores in your work is Ã¢??dialogueÃ¢?? (not monologue); in other words, the meeting of difference (self and other) where difference can remain (where it may even speak) but where it does not need to be transformed, overcome, tamedÃ¢?Â¦ Lastly, I think Anne Marsella writes beautifully Ã¢?? her language is both singular and evocative.show moreby Christy Keil
This is such a humorous, enjoyable book combining the joys of motherhood and witty observations on ex-pat life in France -- but that's not all. Jane de la Rochefoucault and her composer husband Charles not only face domestic challenges in their six-floor walk-up in Belleville, but get mixed up in a plot involving an underground organization called Muslims-Without-Borders. This leads Jane -- with the help of her slightly less-than-lawful mother-in-law -- on a dangerous mission to Italy. A picaresque tale that made me laugh -- most often in astonishment -- at such a deft yet truly odd portrait of life in Paris. I can honestly say I've never read a book quite like this.show moreby Jenn Morley