« Nézida Cordeil. » The name is inscribed at the bottom of the photograph, followed by the dates 1856-1884. Other than this, little seemed to remain of her. But Valérie Paturaud decided to bring her back to life by piecing together bits of a forgetten existence imprisoned in silence.
Nézida. A name still smoldering, just asking to be stoked back into life. And yet, no written trace, no witness to the life, the dreams, the hopes of this young woman who died so young. A forgotten soul. What was her life like? What can we know or imagine about her, her childhood, of her girlish hopes, of her life as a young wife in the city? To retain something of this woman wiped from memory, the author conjures up all those lives, attested to or not in the archives, who knew her, spent time with her, liked her. To give them one last word about her. During her lifetime, she worried and disturbed by her thirst for absolute freedom; her intense passion and will to embrace life uncondiionally and unflinchingly. Her exemplary moral rigor did nothing though to reassure her entourage, the Protestant countryfolk of those little villages perched above the valley of Dieulefit in a corner of the French provençale Drôme, then shaken by the coming of the textile and pottery factories. And she surely didn’t suit her in-laws either, living in Lyon which, in this second half of the nineteenth century, was little given to emancipated women blossoming in the service of others.
After working in juvenile detention centers, Valérie Paturaud spent her teaching career in the difficult neighborhoods of the housing developments of Essonne, France. Several years ago, she settled in provençal Drôme. The warm welcome of the inhabitants aroused her interest in the cultural history of this valley, a landmark of Protestantism and the Resistance.
« The meteoric fate of a quiet rebel. » Le Figaro Magazine
« An amazing career and a tragic destiny. » La Libre Belgique
« We love this book that brings a person back to life with emotion. » La Vie/ RCF
« A brief life, almost as surprising as her name suggests. » Le Monde
« A polyphonic first novel finely-tuned to the heartstrings of grief. » L’Obs
« A powerful and moving novel. » Le Soir
« Sensitive, intense, daring, and serious. » La Marseillaise
« A liberated woman before her time. » Le Dauphiné
« Fervent writing and a keen sense of atmosphere. » Sud Ouest Dimanche
« Fine, stylish and well-judged writing that stirs the emotions on every page. » Librairie La Procure, Paris (La Croix)