La joueuse d'échecs

The Woman Who Plays Chess
La joueuse d'échecs

Bertina Henrichs
FOREIGN SALES : Italy, Einaudi ; The Netherlands, De Geus ; Germany, Hoffmann und Campe (paperback : Heyne) ; Greece, Modern Times ; Spain, Alianza ; Roumania, Echinox ; Brazil, Record ; Sweden, Elisabeth Grate ; Korea, DDWorld; Japan, Chikuma Shobo ; Russia, Inostranka
Audiovisual adaptation rights sold: "Joueuse" a film by Caroline Bottaro, starring Sandrine Bonnaire and Kevin Kline (August 2009)

Eleni is a chambermaid in a tourist hotel on the island of Naxos. Having reached her forties, her dreary life revolves almost solely around her work, the car mechanic husband she married at eighteen, her two adolescent children and a childhood friend. She finds her only place of freedom in the rooms she cleans every morning and in the objects she sees there through which she dreams of another life… One day by accident she knocks over a chess piece of a match in progress. And unexpectedly her life is turned upside down: to the great displeasure of her family and the dumbfounded inhabitants of the island, she develops a passion for this game. Little by little, Eleni grows ever closer to emancipation and self-awareness. Through this voyage of discovery, a great narrative talent is revealed. A beautiful and unexpected portrait of an ordinary woman.

Bertina Henrichs, born in Frankfurt, has lived in France for over 25 years. Following studies in literature and cinema, she became a scriptwriter of documentaries and fiction. Her fascination for the light and colour of the Greek isles, which she’s visited many times, makes for the great authenticity of the story. La Joueuse d’échecs, her first novel, was written directly in French.

  • Published on septembre 1st, 2005
  • 160 pages


« What a beautifully original idea is developed here by Bertina Henrichs, a German author who writes in French. It’s far removed from navel-gazing, egocentric literature, and very happily so! » Psychologies
“This woman who plays chess could well outmanoeuvre other more seasoned authors.” Elle

“This often moving portrait of a woman has the solitary and sunlit charm of the Greek Isles.” Le Monde