World War II belongs to a world whose memory is fading. In mulesit still serves as material for a very contemporary novel.
Jeanne, the central character of Mulos, is an elderly woman. We would even like to speak of a “little old woman” since she seems physically fragile and expresses herself disheveled.
She has been living in a psychiatric hospital for years. But recently a woman comes to collect his words. What troubled times then come to the surface!
Jeanne is a concentration camp survivor. She was found there as a child by soldiers, including Maria, a Quebecer who could not bring herself to abandon the little girl who was clinging to her skirt.
After her return from Europe, Maria becomes a nun and places Jeanne in the orphanage assigned to her. The little girl doesn’t speak, but she has an extraordinary talent for the violin. This brings her closer to another little orphan who also has musical talent: blonde Suzanne. You become inseparable.
However, their friendship is impossible. Because Suzanne also comes from Europe, but from a different type of camp: the Lebensborns. These births were devoted to the procreation of children who, from their conception, met the criteria of Aryan purity. Hence the little girl’s blondeness.
The two friends know nothing of this story, but even in an orphanage in Trois-Rivières, the award counts. Suzanne’s Alsatian grandmother is waking up and supporters of Hitler’s regime have taken refuge in Quebec.
The weight of history
Johanne Pothier sensitively tells of these two fates of women who were destined to hate each other and who fell in love – until everything becomes more complex due to the crushing weight of the story.
Pothier thus lifts the veil over aspects of National Socialism that are not often emphasized. This system not only attacked the Jews, but also the gypsies, that was the brunette Jeanne. And little is known about the Lebensborns, who have only been seriously researched for about forty years.
By giving the two girls such a past, Mulos demonstrates pedagogy. The story is not that difficult.
Going back and forth in Jeanne’s memories, we follow with curiosity her development as a concert violinist and in particular her relationship with Suzanne, and wonder how the truth will emerge.
Add to that the pleasure of a text where the words flow smoothly even in the toughest yet necessary scenes. A sense of harmony that the author draws from her past as a musician, which led her to become director of the music conservatory of Trois-Rivières.
Since then she has turned to writing novels; Mulos is his fourth. The title means “ghosts” in Romani, and it’s salutary to remember that even in Quebec, some of these have been and still are haunted.