Trap For Cinderella,
by Sébastien Japrisot
Translated by Helen Weaver
US publication date 9/7/2021
Piège pour Cendrillon
was first published in French in 1962
French mystery / Classic
After the recent re-translation of many books by Georges Simenon (his Maigret series) in English, it looks like French classic thrillers are getting hot these days. And I am so delighted, as there are so many forgotten gems.
It’s now Sébastien Japrisot’s turn, with three upcoming new publications by Gallic Books.
Today, I’m thrilled to present Trap For Cinderella, which might be one of the most characteristic thrillers by this novelist, even though his most famous is probably A Very Long Engagement (Un long dimanche de fiançailles), because of the movie based on it.
The very first page gives you a perfect flavor of Parisot’s style:
Is it a bit confusing? Yes. And I even suggest you read the first (short) chapter twice, to try to figure out who’s who, because, well, you are never going to know, throughout the book, as the author is really going to tease you and take you on a wild ride.
There was a fire in a resort in the south of France. Two girls are found: one is dead, the other is so badly burnt that it is impossible to identify her. To make things worse, the survivor is suffering from amnesia. So yes, who’s who? Are they both victims? Is one of them a killer? What’s the connection between them?
I liked that for the most part, the English translation uses what the French call the historical present, that is, relating past events using the present tense. For me, it gives much more tension and reality to the plot and twists. And there are twists galore!
The historical present particularly fits here with the story, as the heroine struggles with her identity and even her memories: as memories slowly come back to her, she wonders (and the readers with her) if these are her real own memories, or memories planted in her head by someone else.
Talking about tenses, the author also plays with them in the titles of the various parts: I Would Have Murdered, I Murdered, I Shall Murder, I Murder, I Had Murdered.
The ending is great, but nothing is really telling you that this is finally the truth. You may have to make your own decision on this one. The author is not going to make it easy for you.
Piège pour Cendrillon received the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière (a major thriller award) in 1963, and it totally make sense to me. Especially in 1963, it had to be such an amazing and unusual psychological thriller.
Stay tuned: In October and November, I will be presenting two more novels by Parisot upcoming at Gallic Books.
VERDICT: How to kill your reading slump? This short psychological thriller, with twists galore, unreliable characters, and identity issues, will do it!
HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK?
Or any other great French classic mystery?
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In full compliance with FTC Guidelines, I received this book free of charge from the publisher, for review. I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer, and the thoughts are my own.