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****Catherine Certitude

story by Patrick Modiano

pictures by Jean-Jacques Sempé

translated by William Rodarmor

Reviewed August 24, 2004.
David R. Godine, Publisher, Boston, 2001.  First published in France in 1988.  61 pages.

Thanks to my friend Erin MacLellan (author of Run From the Nun) for recommending this book to me.  We met at a writers’ conference in Paris, so it doesn’t surprise me that this book about a childhood in Paris would be special to her.

Catherine Certitude is told in picture book format, but it’s a story for older readers.  It’s a simple story of remembering a girl’s childhood with her father in the 10th arrondissement of Paris.

“Sometimes Papa would say, ‘Come here, Catherine,’ and I would join him on the scale.  We would stand there, the two of us, Papa’s hand on my shoulders, without moving.  We looked as if we were posing for a photograph.  I took off my glasses, and Papa took off his.  Everything around us became soft and fuzzy. Time stopped.  We felt fine.”

Catherine’s Papa’s business partner, Mister Casterade, doesn’t understand their approach to life.  Sometimes they would take off their glasses to avoid seeing him.

This is an example of the sort of gentle plot found in this book.  Catherine and her father enjoy life, and find ways of getting around efforts to make them be fussier.

This lovely little book will make you smile and perhaps look at life with a softer focus.

Copyright © 2004 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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