“Desert Rose” by Violaine Huisman, the autobiography of a passionate lover

Desert rose

by Violaine Huisman

Gallimard, 242 p., 19 €

In early 2018, Violaine Huisman made a dazzling entry into literature with her first book, Fugitive because queen, where the overwhelming love of Violaine and her sister unfolded for their extravagant and bipolar mother. After a first part overflowing with emotion, where the girl evoked ” mum “, in a second, a more distant biographical account, the woman appeared, “Catherine Cremnitz”. The whole painted a portrait of a woman as exhausting as endearing.

Less than two years later, Violaine Huisman publishes a text of which she occupies this time the center. Employed by a New York publishing house, she just broke up in 2007 with the man whose life she has shared for three years. This separation, the third, it imposes itself as the last, even if with him love has taken on an extraordinary carnal dimension: the contact of his skin makes it ” combustible “. “This indomitable desire that I had for him immolated in me all reason, all modesty. I had to beg him not to touch my arm in public so as not to have to struggle, in petto, against the feverish urge to strip naked on the spot. “ Violaine Huisman refuses to rekindle the flame of this relationship with an inconstant, unfaithful and angry man.

After hesitating between hiding in her apartment and wandering around New York, fearing to meet him, she decides to put the Atlantic between her and him. She has an alibi: the sumptuous celebration of her sister’s thirty years in Marrakech. It determines a journey: the crossing of the Sahara from Morocco to Senegal where his mother lives part of the year. Sorrow in love anesthetizing all common sense, she remains deaf to the warnings of friends and the employee of the Embassy of Mauritania where she obtains her visa, barely informed of the conflict in Western Sahara.

In the first part, Violaine Huisman mixes her strange expedition to Nouakchott and in the desert, with the memory of her incandescent loves with the same passion in the writing she put in these feverish lovemaking, sometimes revealing herself crudely in pages madly sensual. Then the fluctuations of the Saharan wandering and the whining of a very physical passion give way to a colder story in which it is told in the third person, relocating this destructive story in a contrasting love trajectory. Little by little, everything takes on meaning until this journey which seems devoid of it. The similarity of the construction with Fugitive because queen may surprise. But the alert and sumptuous pen of Violaine Huisman incites to forgive her everything. And then how not to see in this common point between the two books, one devoted to Catherine Cremnitz and the other autobiographical, a discreet link between one and the other, perhaps a new sign of love for the daughter to her mother?

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