"A new translation, by David Bellos, of this chilling novel, set on the Belgian border.
"She wasn't an ordinary supplicant. She didn't lower her eyes. There was nothing humble about her bearing. She spoke frankly, looking straight ahead, as if to claim what was rightfully hers. If you don't agree to look at our case, my parents and I will be lost, and it will be the most hateful legal error...."
Maigret is asked to the windswept, rainy border town of Givet by a young woman desperate to clear her family of murder. But their well-kept shop, the sleepy community, and its raging river all hide their own mysteries.
Georges Simenon was born in Liège, Belgium, in 1903. Best known in Britain as the author of the Maigret books, his prolific output of over 400 novels and short stories have made him a household name in continental Europe. He died in 1989 in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he had lived for the latter part of his life.
With the Meuse in flood and a rice tart on the table, Maigret reviews the reason he is far from home in a grocery store on the Belgian border. Joseph, a young man had a child out of wedlock with a girl in Givet. When the girl goes missing, public opinion turns against the family: they accuse them of murdering her.
But there is no body. So why do they believe it was murder? Couldn't she have done a runner?
Family secrets, illusions, deceptions, quayside interrogations, song lyrics, and even an Ursuline convent in Nemours are part of the solution to this melancholy story. It has a wonderfully surprising ending, I think, and leaves one something to consider about Maigret's character.
One of my favorite things when I can escape to myself is to grab a sketchbook and a Maigret, and go somewhere to draw and listen to the story. Sometimes I draw what I imagine a character looks like, though I do not attempt "himself." Here the character of Anna Peters is compelling. After all "never had a woman aroused his curiosity as much" as this. No, it is not because she is attractive, for she is not. She is, like many of Simenon's characters, someone for whom chances never come.
This is a good one, if grim, and brought back many memories for me. Winter on the Belgian border is no place for weaklings...
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