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This Strange Eventful History

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9780349127057

Price: £20

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‘One of those rare novels which a reader doesn’t merely read but lives through with the characters . . . Claire Messud is a magnificent storyteller‘ Yiyun Li

June 1940. As Paris falls to the Germans, Gaston Cassar – honorable servant of France, devoted husband and father, currently posted as naval attache in Salonica – bids farewell to his beloved wife, aunt and children, placing his faith in God that they will be reunited after the war. But escaping the violence of that cataclysm is not the same as emerging unscathed. The family will never again be whole.

A work of breathtaking historical sweep and vivid psychological intimacy, This Strange Eventful History charts the Cassars’ unfolding story as its members move between Salonica and Algeria, the US, Cuba, Canada, Argentina, Australia and France – their itinerary shaped as much by a search for an elusive wholeness, as by the imperatives of politics, faith, family, industry and desire.

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This Strange Eventful History is the powerful saga of a family buffeted by eternal conflicts: war, exile, thwarted ambitions, forbidden sexual desires. Messud tells the story of the Cassars, a French colonial family expelled from their beloved Algeria and scattered across Europe, North America, Australia, and how each generation of survivors relives the familial trauma of dispossession. Messud's mesmerizing tale of true love, duty, faith, and family secrets is a must-read!
Fernanda Eberstadt, author of Bite Your Friends
Also in May, there's the great Claire Messud, with This Strange Eventful History (Fleet), the sweeping tale of a family - the Cassars - whose life takes them from second world war Paris to the US, Cuba, Australia and beyond over the decades that follow. It's almost unbearably moving, wise and full of the most gorgeous prose
Alex Preston, Observer Novels to Look Out For in 2024
An engrossing tale with dizzying sweep, and beautifully written
Lionel Shriver
Messud's gimlet eye and quietly masterful way with words make every character and incident gripping . . . Brilliant and heart-wrenching; Messud is one of contemporary literature's best
Kirkus Reviews
What an extraordinary experience This Strange Eventful History gives to readers. It takes them on artful and masterfully orchestrated grand tours - of the world as it spins toward and away from World War II into nearly our own time, of three generations of the Cassar family as it concentrates and disperses and arrays itself across the spinning world, of the individual family members as they each experience in their own indelible ways how history enfolds and excludes us, how time -implacable and indecipherable - befalls us, and how love may possibly be the only true human masterpiece, elusive as it so often and tragically proves to be. Claire Messud captures the heartbreaking paradoxes of being in our world and in ourselves yet feeling separated from both with a precision and acuity like no other writer I know
Paul Harding, author of the Booker shortlisted This Other Eden
In a major new novel from the author of The Woman Upstairs, a family is dispersed across the globe in the wake of the second world war.
Guardian 'Books to Look Out For in 2024'
A choral mural of sweep and scope that knows just when to render the historical personal, Claire Messud's epic is above all a wise, wary, yet love-struck chronicle of how the selves we strive to make become "colonized" by family
Joshua Cohen, Pulitzer Prize-winner of THE NETANYAHU’S
This Strange Eventful History is an astonishment - rich and luminous, dense with life, wide with wisdom. Messud's view of the Cassar family - and we suspect as we read it, her own - is as emotionally precise and imaginatively capacious as her rendering of the history that shapes their fortunes. Rarely has the private magic of familial love been so fully realized in a public act of literature. Just exquisite.
Ayad Akhtar
A tour de force, This Strange Eventful History is one of those rare novels which a reader doesn't merely read but lives through with the characters. Call it the War and Peace of the 20th and 21st century, call it The Long View of a family migrating through many borders, worlds, and eras, call it anything and we fall short. Claire Messud is a magnificent storyteller, and the novel, an all-encompassing history of many human hearts and any human heart, will linger and haunt us as the best and the most heartbreaking memory
Yiyun Li
Inspired by acclaimed author Claire Messud's own ancestry, This Strange Eventful History chronicles seven decades in the lives of a fictional family of Algerian-born French citizens. Opening with the patriarch, naval attaché Gaston, while he is stationed in Greece as Paris falls to the Nazis, the novel unfolds as war, distance, politics, and faith test the family's ties. Messud follows the Cassars from 1940 to 2010, weaving a complex, multi-generational saga against the backdrop of World War II, the Algerian Revolution, and beyond
The 25 Most Anticipated Books of 2024 ,Time magazine