This Strange Eventful History

A Novel

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Pub Date May 14 2024 | Archive Date Apr 30 2024

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An immersive, masterful story of a family born on the wrong side of history, from one of our finest contemporary novelists.

Over seven decades, from 1940 to 2010, the pieds-noirs Cassars live in an itinerant state—separated in the chaos of World War II, running from a complicated colonial homeland, and, after Algerian independence, without a homeland at all. This Strange Eventful History, told with historical sweep, is above all a family story: of patriarch Gaston and his wife Lucienne, whose myth of perfect love sustains them and stifles their children; of François and Denise, devoted siblings connected by their family’s strangeness; of François’s union with Barbara, a woman so culturally different they can barely comprehend one another; of Chloe, the result of that union, who believes that telling these buried stories will bring them all peace.

Inspired by stories of her own family’s history, Claire Messud animates her characters’ rich interior lives amidst the social and political upheaval of a recently vanished world. As profoundly intimate as it is expansive, This Strange Eventful History is “a tour de force... one of those rare novels which a reader doesn’t merely read but lives through with the characters” (Yiyun Li).

About the Author: Claire Messud is the author of six works of fiction. A recipient of Guggenheim and Radcliffe fellowships and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she teaches at Harvard University.

An immersive, masterful story of a family born on the wrong side of history, from one of our finest contemporary novelists.

Over seven decades, from 1940 to 2010, the pieds-noirs Cassars live in an...

A Note From the Publisher

LibraryReads votes due by 4/1/24.

LibraryReads votes due by 4/1/24.

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9780393635041
PRICE $29.99 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

I mean, it's a new Claire Messud -- of course it is going to be amazing. The novel traces the history of a family French settlers in Algeria, starting during World War Two and ending in the 2010s. The family moves around, becomes stateless, and fractures all over the globe, while remaining tightly bound. The elder child becomes a high powered CEO in a faltering marriage while the younger daughter never quite gains independence from her parents. The characters are richly drawn and the language is beautiful. An early contender for all the year end lists.

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An epic tale, the story of the Cassar family, inspired by Messud's own family history. Moving through seven decades, mid-20th century through nearly the present day, and set in many places - Salonica, Algeria, Switzerland, Paris, Massachusetts, Toronto, Australia, and Connecticut - we meet the various Cassars, itinerant Algerians who are separated by WW II, and lose their homeland, alway in search of home, striving, faithful to each other and to their Catholicism, down through the generations, starting with Gaston and Lucienne, who marry and have a perfect idealized love, a love that has its own secret, the stories of their children, Francoise and Denise, and Francoise's marriage to Canadian Barbara, and their two daughters, Loulou, and Chloe, the single first-person narrator, and a writer. Intimate and expansive, their stories fold and unfold, secrets are gleaned and more. Atmospheric and immersive.

Thanks to W.W. Norton and Netgalley for the ARC.

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