Angelina's Children

Overview

“A wonderful portrait of a woman both imperial and bruised, a greying ravaged mother-wolf that still controls all those around her. A novel of rhythm and grace, a beautiful voyage with the gypsies.”—Le Monde

The story of Angelina, a gypsy matriarch, whose tribe is exiled to the outskirts of a French city. A young librarian comes to introduce the children to books and stories. She gradually gains their confidence and accompanies them through an eventful and tragic year. Ferney’s ...

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2005-10-01 Paperback New NEW-IT IS BRAND NEW-clean text, tight binding, It is free from any foreign markings.

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Overview

“A wonderful portrait of a woman both imperial and bruised, a greying ravaged mother-wolf that still controls all those around her. A novel of rhythm and grace, a beautiful voyage with the gypsies.”—Le Monde

The story of Angelina, a gypsy matriarch, whose tribe is exiled to the outskirts of a French city. A young librarian comes to introduce the children to books and stories. She gradually gains their confidence and accompanies them through an eventful and tragic year. Ferney’s distinctive style powerfully involves the reader in the family’s disasters, its comic moments, in the love lives of the five boys, the bravery of the children, and, eventually, in Angelina’s final gesture of defiance.

Winner of the literary prize Culture et Bibliothèques.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Alternately high-flown and gritty, this novel, the first U.S. release from French author Ferney, begins with a clichE about Gypsy blood-"a dark and vital flow that attracted women and fathered numberless children"-but as the book progresses, the Romanies rise vividly above stereotype. The widowed Gypsy matriarch, Angelina, her five sons, their wives and children take up residence in an abandoned vegetable garden on the edge of a French town. A librarian, Esther Duvaux, decides to read aloud to the children, and over time she wins not only Angelina's consent but also her friendship. Love, both requited and not, figures large, as do generalizations like "destinies are unchangeable." But all rests on a foundation of flinty detail: the broken glass that litters the campsite, the stench of the trash fire that warms Angelina's family. Ferney also captures the Gypsies' marginalization in French society: the neglect and unfriendliness at the hospital where Angelina's youngest grandchild is born, Esther's efforts to get the town to allow the oldest grandchild into school and the struggle to keep her in once she's there. In Ferney's hands, the romance of the Gypsies becomes a meditation on life's harsh unpredictability and the joy to be found in its midst. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This grim portrait of gypsies won a French literary prize after its 1997 publication. Angelina is only 57, but gypsies age fast. The matriarch has just taken possession of a disused vegetable garden (in an unidentified French town) that will prove to be her last address. She has arrived with her five sons, four daughters-in-law and seven grandchildren. Her husband is dead; caught stealing, he was beaten to a pulp and left to die. With her rotten teeth and distended belly, Angelina is an ugly old crone, yet her complexion, the author notes, is sometimes "golden." Here Ferney wants to have it both ways, portraying Angelina as a gypsy version of Mother Courage who is also stupid and obstinate. Ferney offers an ambivalent portrayal of the sons: They drink, they steal, they fornicate and they're almost completely idle, yet they also have "a magnificent kind of inertia," which renders them "both sublime and infuriating." One bright spot is angelic Esther. Esther is a gadje (non-gypsy), a Jewish nurse turned librarian who shows up out of the blue to read fairy tales to the children; the ragamuffins are good as gold, spellbound. Esther visits every week, although she has a husband and three kids of her own. She manages to get the local school to accept one of the gypsy children, but can't stop City Hall from closing down the encampment. Angelina, who has been throwing their letters into the fire unopened, decides to starve herself to death rather than go through another eviction; she has just enough strength left to deliver a string of homilies before she expires. The gypsies' wretchedness makes for dreary reading, exacerbated by the lack of plot.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781904738107
  • Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press, Ltd
  • Publication date: 10/1/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 275
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Born in Paris in 1967,Alice Ferney studied business management and combines her life as a successful novelist with that as university professor. She is married, the mother of three children and has written six highly acclaimed novels. Emily Read is a well known translator from the French. She has published a number of titles of non-fiction and fiction, including "The Reckoning" by Simenon.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    excellent tale

    Though they have not left French soil in four centuries, the Gypsies have always been nomadic however modern society with its demands on documents makes moving around quite difficult so this particular band headed by a widow settles down in an abandoned garden. --- The townsfolk are irate that these filthy squatters reside nearby. However, the Gypsy matriarch Angelina, her five sons, her four daughter-in-laws, and her grandchildren ignore the pressure to leave. One townie librarian Esther Duvaux begins arriving at the encampment to read stories to the children though Angelina¿s sons, especially the oldest and unmarried Angelo assumes the worst of their persistent visitor. However, his mother, seeing deep inside the soul of Esther, realizes the librarian risks the wrath of her family, friends, and neighbors out of a desire to help the itinerant children she challenges everyone including the gypsies to allow the oldest grandchild to attend school. The locals want Angelina, her children, and grandchildren to leave and settle near someone else¿s home. --- ANGELINA¿S CHILDREN is an excellent tale that condemns the hypocrisy of western society¿s claims of a melting pot that welcomes the poor, downtrodden etc. The welcome mat extends as long as the masses fit into a safe restricted comfort zone defined by the insiders. Think how many of us support rehab centers just not on our block or encourage building that nuclear reactor on a ranch in Crawford, Texas to supply us in Georgia. Esther is a courageous individual defying everyone to forge a friendship with Angelina while the secondary ensemble displays the mutual distrust between the Gypsies and the local French. Alice Ferney provides a thought-provoking tale about hugging differences rather than spitting on them. --- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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