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MyFrenchLife™ French Book Club BOOK 2 UPDATE – Édouard Louis, The End of Eddy

MyFrenchLife™ – MyFrenchLife.org – Book Club - Recently translated French fiction - Édouard Louis - The End of Eddy

Dear members and readers,

This summary update is designed for all those who are taking part in our French bestsellers Book Club and are seeking a quick catch-up

It’s time to buy your second book!
‘The End of Eddy’ or ‘En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule’ by Édouard Louis.

  • Click here to buy in English
  • Or click here to buy in French

Édouard Louis: a bit of background

This book, first published in 2014, was an instant bestseller – and was very much talked about in France. It’s the sensational coming-of-age story of Édouard Louis, born in 1992, who was only 22 at the time of publication.

As in ‘The Perfect Nanny’, the short opening line sets the tone:

From my childhood, I have no happy memories.

This 200-page narrative is so captivating that you may only be able to put it down at the end!

Please do let us know if you’re going to read with us, as we continue this journey of discovery of modern French literature!

Pre-reading questions

Assuming you also have your own opinions on this topic, I’d like you to share with us before reading…

1. How much do you know about rural poor Northern France? Can you name a few cities? Have you seen the very popular French comedy ‘Les Ch’tis’?

2. Isn’t it contradictory to call a novel an autobiography?

Getting involved

As we’re all ‘remote’ book club members, here’s where YOU GET INVOLVED:

  • The MyFrenchLife™ Facebook community page and our Goodreads group are great platforms for sharing thoughts and discussions live.
  • You will also be able to participate in the comments section of the articles and updates posted simultaneously on the MyFrenchLife™ site.
  • Here is the Reading List article.

What are your initial impressions of ‘The End of Eddy’ by Édouard Louis? Here’s where you can GET INVOLVED. Please share your thoughts and comments on the MyFrenchLife™ Facebook community page or in our Goodreads group.


Image credits:
1. The End of Eddy, via Amazon
2. En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule, via Amazon


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2 Comments

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  1. Carolyne Lee
    8 months ago

    I’m now about two-thirds the way through reading the French version of Eddy. I’ll answer your second question first: “Isn’t it contradictory to call a novel an autobiography?”
    While genre borders are often quite porous, if I were to label this book’s genre, I would call it an autobiography, certainly, in the form of ‘literary non-fiction’ I don’t think this is a category in French literature, but it is in English, and much media writing has been moving in this direction for a long time, simply because readers enjoy it more. This is because the writer creates scenes which readers can ‘see’ and experience emotionally. Edouard Louis does this frequently in his book, but not nearly as much as is normally done in a novel. Also, because it is based on his life (or his version of his life, as he makes clear in his interview), he includes quite a deal of reflection and analysis. This takes readers–even if only momentarily–out of the very vivid scenes–and constructs a sort of ‘sideways’ movement, as opposed to a ‘forward’ movement, more characteristic of ‘pure’ novels. So I see this book as a sort of hybrid, rather than a novel per se.
    For the second question: “How much do you know about rural poor Northern France? Can you name a few cities? Have you seen the very popular French comedy ‘Les Ch’tis’?” Before reading this book, I knew very little about this area or demographic, although I had seen ‘Les Ch’tis’ and also more recently ‘La famille Ch’tite’, but I didn’t take them very seriously. I’ve valued the insight that ‘Eddy’ offers into a demographic that we visitors to France don’t often see (what country wants to admit that people live in poverty?). But to know a country I think it’s beneficial to try to understand all aspects of it, not just the aesthetic and the privileged.
    I haven’t yet finished reading the book–and I almost don’t want to, as he writes so well–but I may have other points to add once I have finished. I’ll be very interested to compare a few pages of each version to see how certain terms and expressions are translated–“les durs”, for example. I look forward to the next bookclub meeting to discuss this too!


    • Jacqueline Dubois Pasquier
      8 months ago

      Thank you Carolyne for your insightful answers. As you know there’s also an other discussion going on on the same subject on MyFrenchLife facebook community page here. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/MyFrenchLifeCommunityPage/permalink/1897387933626563/)
      I totally agree with your view on the autobiography genre. I would also want to ask you if you did not think of the naturalist literary movement of the second half of 19th century best rendered in Zola’s novels (Germinal, Nana …) and could not label this novel a modern naturalist one ? it’s all there,violence, hard living conditions, determinism through a magnifying glass.

      Here’s my contribution to the facebook thread
      QUESTION 2 I just wanted to add that I agree with all your comments about Eddy being definitely an autobiography. However at the time the novel was published I remember I saw interviews of Eddy’s members of his family who were all appalled and said he had made this all up! So to what extent what is claimed by an author to be an autobiography can be 100% reliable and true ? I don’t believe such a performance is possible.First of all, one’s memory is totally subjective + a writer is a story teller, i.e. an inventor, a manipulator, in the end we’ll have the pieces of his life he only wanted to spare. I remember our teacher of French literature when I was in Junior High School (11th grade/ La Première in the French school system) when we studied ‘Les Confessions’ by Rousseau had warned us , despite the promise the philosopher made in the preamble ‘Je forme une entreprise qui n’eut jamais d’exemple et dont l’exécution n’aura point d’imitateur. Je veux montrer à mes semblables un homme dans toute la vérité de la nature ; et cet homme ce sera moi.’ , his confessions were not really honest!
      QUESTION 1 Little villages in Northern rural France where Eddy comes from is not an area tourists usually visit (why would they, unless they have personal reasons for staying there) That’s why I thought it was interesting to move settings from Paris bourgeois neighborhood (in The Perfect Nanny) to its complete opposite.This is France too, as it’s not only the prerogative of the North of course to host such depressing areas. I don’t think they’re worth the visit, but It’s important to know France is not only a beautiful and quaint postcard (this can be felt currently as workers claims through the strikes are being voiced – mainly about the loss of purchasing power) Donna , the weather as part and parcel of the list of characters in Eddy is a great topic to discuss . The house worsening condition is just the mirror of how poor they are and poorer they become after the father is laid off. The damp and the cold affect both the house and their characters. As you point out, the weather is used as a literary device and is an indispensable element to understand the characters ( it reminded me of ‘Angela’s Ashes’ by Frank Mc Court and the central role played by the constant rainy weather in Ireland but it’s great you compared it to ‘L’Etranger’ by Camus for the same reason )