The Confidant

Written by Hélène Grémillon
Review by Jessica Brockmole

A beautiful, intricate book, The Confidant is held together with delicate threads and secrets. I scarcely know how to review it without inadvertently giving one away.

In 1975, after the unexpected death of her mother, Camille finds a thick letter from an unknown man named Louis amongst the condolence cards. But it isn’t a message of sympathy; rather, it’s a tale of youthful love and impending war, told in serial, with a new installment arriving in her mailbox every Tuesday. In 1933, as Hitler gains power in Germany, in a little village outside of Paris Louis falls in love with his schoolmate Annie, a quiet girl who loves to paint. This childish love persists for years, as Hitler moves across Germany and closer to Paris. Annie, on the cusp of adulthood, befriends a wealthy, barren couple in the village and begins to pull away from Louis. It is only after receiving a desperate letter from Paris that Louis learns the depth of what Annie has fallen into with that friendship. And Camille is left with an old-fashioned mystery, attempting to track down the characters from the scatters of clues sifted through the letters, attempting to figure out why Louis has sent these letters to her.

It’s a story of enduring emotions—love, jealousy, revenge—and the lengths that we will go to in their name. A love story, a thriller, a war novel, The Confidant is hard to put down. And, when you do, you’ll want to flip back to the beginning and read again to see what clues you may have missed the first time. This gripping little story with its flawed, yet memorable characters is highly recommended.