The first novel of Sue Rainsford, an Irish author published by Editions Aux Forges de Vulcains, makes magnificent use of the codes of the fantastic to deal with assigned social roles, transgression and desire. A brutal, uncompromising and terribly effective text.
In an isolated house, a father and a daughter treat, with unorthodox methods, the inhabitants of the neighboring village whom they call “the cures”. Different, they frighten as much as they fascinate. This delicate balance is threatened, however, when Ada, whose function in this world is defined from birth, attaches herself to Samson. He doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything, and especially not of her.
“Most cures get frightened very easily.
It was for this reason that Samson had something magical”
A story that plays on our fears
As in a horror film, Sue Rainsford installs a tension that keeps you in suspense and makes the book difficult to close. There is healing of the patients, of course, but the hemoglobin, the real or supposed monsters, the magic not to say the sorcery are there. Each character seems to hide their true colors and it’s hard to decide who are “the good guys” and “the bad guys”.
The constant ambiguity is moreover underlined by the structure of the text, which alternates testimonies, as in a police investigation, and actual narrative.
This atypical form leaves a paradoxical first impression, after reading it almost in one go. Is it a crush or a disappointment? It is quickly clear that this novel is a very beautiful literary discovery. But the text is so rich that you have to let it decant to appreciate all the aromas.
To address complex topics
Is the distribution of character traits and tasks immutable? Is a woman’s vocation caring for others, obedience, motherhood? How far can she listen to her desire/desires and shape her own body? What are the limits between good and evil? Does love justify everything?
Sue Rainsford does not decide, does not judge but creates strong characters that force us to confront these questions. Moreover, it is perhaps there, the greatest fear that reading arouses, in this gray zone which shatters all Manichaeism.
“Father has always been more bestial than me.
Some nights he bent his back, he got on all fours, he abandoned reason and language, and he ran through the forest. (…)
On the mornings when a cure was to come, he would say to me:
– You have a cure today, Ada.
As if it were necessary to remind me. As if I had only once forgotten”
Unature and powerful women
Nature is a character in the book, perhaps the main character. But there again, there is nothing angelic about the vision. The Earth, with a capital letter, saves as much as it swallows up, the water refreshes but conceals unsuspected dangers, the sun burns.
“As I said earlier, when I was little, Father told me stories about the Earth, and he told me to be careful.
– The Earth is cruel, but if we plow it, and if we restrict it, it can be useful to us. »
The Earth is like the women in this novel, Ada, Olivia or Sister Anguille… they don’t let a yoke be imposed on themselves with impunity.
Sue Rainsford, Down to the ground, Editions Aux Forges Vulcain224 pages, 20€, released on 08/26/2022.
Visual (c) Cover of the book
We would like to say thanks to the author of this write-up for this remarkable material
“To the earth”: A novel of emancipation – Toutlaculture
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