Tiffany Tavernier’s “Friend”: neighbor witness


by Tiffany Tavernier

Sabine Wespieser 264 p., 21 €

Two isolated houses in the countryside. One night, the sirens sound, a police armada arrives in the courtyard of one of them. At the other’s window, a man witnesses, amazed, the arrest of his neighbors, Guy and Chantal. The opening scene is beautifully cinematic. The author has to take hold of. Mother screenwriter, father and brother filmmakers. She herself has worked a lot for the cinema, and this is felt throughout the novel which scrolls like a film noir, anchored in the French province.

In order to strengthen the reader’s proximity to the dramatic progression, the narration, that of Thierry, the neighbor witness, is in the first person. For a long time, he remained incredulous, insisting to the police officer who came to question him: “They are discreet and Guy is always ready to help. “ As always, the criminal was a charming neighbor. For Thierry, the shock goes far beyond this bad surprise. Guy was his friend. And even his only friend. Of course, Thierry has work colleagues at the factory, a wife he loves and an expatriate son in Vietnam, but the event, which he saw as a betrayal, will resonate with very old shocks.

“Redo history”

At first, he will have to appropriate this new story. The old one told of solidarity and friendship. Thierry helped Guy to dig a hole (supposedly “For its sewerage”), to repair a window, to tinker with a cabin in the forest, without ever being surprised. His wife, Lisa, lent Chantal a sheet, gave sugar to bake a cake, danced with Guy at a party.

Now he has to “remake history”: the window smashed by a young girl trying to escape, the sheet found around a buried body, the hut that served as a jail for the victims, the cakes for the victims. attract. Chantal’s depression, the couple’s arguments, everything gradually finds a new meaning that plunges Thierry into a nameless abyss.

Resist to punish oneself for one’s naivety

Despite the abjection, Thierry struggles to let go of his “friend”. All of this cannot be true. While his world, so patiently constructed, shatters, Thierry resists as if trying to punish himself for his naivety. By his behavior, he excludes himself from everything that held him, his job, his marriage, his future.

Why does this traumatic event resonate so strongly in him? It is all this path that the author invites us to follow with Thierry. Already, his previous novel, Roissy, which featured a homeless man in the Parisian airport, mixed the social picture with the intimate journey. With Friend, Tiffany Tavernier confirms that she excels at transforming social facts into psychological introspection. How do we interfere with the reality of our time? Why are some of us more likely than others to lose our footing? A fine and salutary way to question our place in the world and our perception of it.


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