The Château of the Lunatics
Le Château des insensés

Paola Pigani
All rights available

In France of the 1940s, a broken woman regains her equilibrium thanks to new psychiatric methods. In her sensitive and engaging fifth novel, Paola Pigani lends her voice to those men and women whom history has neglected.

“Jeanne, just Jeanne, no maiden name, no married name. Jeanne, with no civil status and no handbag.” Just Jeanne: this is how a young woman introduces herself to Victor on September 1, 1939, on the platform of a railway station. Interned after the loss of her newborn, she is part of a convoy of «loonies» from the Saint-Evrard asylum in the Paris area. The declaration of war has prompted their urgent evacuation to the remote Lozère region. There in the château of Saint-Alban a new world opens up for Jeanne, Victor, and the other patients. No more bunches of keys, no more confinement. Instead, the freedom to work according to their inclinations and abilities within an unusual community. A new approach to care is developed by a daring team of psychiatrists soon to be joined by the Catalan François Tosquelles in exile from Franco’s Spain. The team secretly opens the doors of the château to members of the Resistance and to Jews for whom it was to become an unexpected place of refuge. Just as it is for the «lunatics» who can there rebuild their lives and open a new chapter.

Paola Pigani was born to a family of Italian immigrants settled in the French Charente. After working in education, she devoted herself to writing, regularly publishing poetry collections. In 2013, Liana Levi brought out her first multi-award winning novel N’entre pas dans mon âme avec tes chaussures. Her next novels, Venus d’ailleurs (2015), Des orties et des hommes (2019), Et ils dansaient le dimanche (2021), she continues to shed light on humble lives and collective destinies. She is also a poet.

  • Published on mars 7th, 2024
  • 256 pages