“We were wolves” by Sandrine Collette: fatherhood put to the test by a sublime and ruthless nature

In this mountainous region, nature has all the rights. Liam lives there by hunting and selling his skins. It’s not so much for the taste of killing animals, it’s that he doesn’t appreciate the company of men. Ava, his wife, followed him to this deserted corner out of love. She raises their 5-year-old son, Aru, there and spends nights alone, while her husband bivouacs under the stars listening to howl the wolves.

One evening, Liam notices bear tracks outside his house. In the garden, Ava lies, curled up. Beneath her inert body, the living body of the child she managed to protect, but who has no place in this wild world. Liam soon has only one obsession, to get rid of him. He saddles his horse and takes Aru to town to entrust him to an uncle. But this one doesn’t want it. Then begins a long wandering, in the gusts, the storms. The uncertain journey of two beings who cannot be united by blood ties, a remorse-ridden father and his mute son.

“These storms”: Sandrine Collette probes our animal part

A gut-wrenching ride

Sandrine Collette, who made her debut in thrillers, creates an extremely tense climate. In the western setting of a region never named, the writer from Morvan deals with a current, universal subject, the harsh apprenticeship of fatherhood. The frantic glint in Aru’s eyes drives Liam mad with rage. Will he finally hear this call? His actions, like those of Abraham in the Bible, seem tested by an enigmatic God. Magnified by the theater of a sublime and pitiless nature, this ride grips the guts.

The author of “These Storms” once again places creatures on the edge of the abyss awaiting redemption. She still speaks of the ferocity of man, of his fight against the beast lurking within him. A powerful and magnetic novel.

We were wolves by Sandrine Collette, JC Lattès, 208 p, 19.90 euros.Jean Hegland: “We need childbirth scenes in novels”

In numbers

Born in Paris in 1970, Sandrine Colette has published “Steel knots” (grand prize for detective literature 2013), “It remains spring” (Landerneau prize for crime fiction 2016), “And always the forests” (booksellers’ prize 2020, 35,000 copies sold). “We were wolves” was printed at 30,000 copies.

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