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Petite Mort Paperback – 24 Oct 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (24 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846689074
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846689079
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 13.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 477,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Sumptuous ... part Moulin Rouge, part Alfred Hitchcock (Grazia 2013-03-25)

There's a touch of Angela Carter about Beatrice Hitchman's beguiling debut - a sly, erotic thriller concerned with doubleness and duplicity (Guardian 2013-04-06)

Movie junkies will love this surprising and original novel ... the story winds itself in knots, then unravels deftly, providing a satisfactory judgment day for the sexy yet heartless central characters in a wholly unexpected ending (Daily Mail 2013-05-17)

An impressive and enjoyable debut: nimble, deft and wrapped luxuriously in the velveteen glamour of the movies. (David Evans FT 2013-05-18)

Like the silver screen world Hitchman portrays, her writing shimmers, drawing you in with glamour and trickery. A fascinating, beguiling and wily debut (Katie Ward, author of Girl Reading)

Compelling ... Hitchman's confident debut is a story about relationships and the risks we take to get what we want. Universal themes, beautifully explored. (Eden Carter Wood Diva 2013-03-01)

Gorgeously written ... with a fantastic twist at the very end ... fascinating. (Rachel Glover Image 2013-03-01)

Sumptuously set, elegantly written, evocative and quietly subversive (Stella Duffy)

Fans of silent films and historical fiction will delight in this chocolate box of a novel which mixes love, lust and scandal with the stardust of 1900s Paris. (The Simple Things 2013-04-01)

An accomplished and assured debut ... a gently compelling tale (Lesley McDowell Sunday Herald 2013-10-27)

The atmosphere is rich with sumptuous details ... striking ... This clever debut indicates a bright future for its author. (Max Liu Independent 2013-11-16)

An astonishingly assured debut novel ... an expertly crafted story. (Anna Carey Irish Times 2014-01-18)

Book Description

Scandal, intoxication and lies flourish in the silent film studios of Paris

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bookdude on 11 Jun. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Beatrice Hitchman has struggled to contain the bubbling pot of ideas that is in this novel. Set in the days of early cinema it records the trials of a young French girl trying to become a movie star. She uses the fashionable and these days almost mandatory device of moving between time periods to tell her story. In the hands of an inexperienced writer this can be confusing.. The fact that it requires a high degree of writing skill to pull it off is evident from the number of writers who fail to do so. The plot of Petite Mort (a euphemism for female orgasm) is attractive but so many sub plots have been introduced that it is difficult to follow. The main thrust of the story is a recently discovered print of an old film in which one scene is missing. The part of the novel set in the present is concerned with tracking down this missing clip. Exactly why this is important is never really made clear. Apparently this is a debut novel and is quite readable if you persevere. Frankly there are enough plot ideas in this one book to have produced enough material for a couple more novels. As a first offering it is quite good and I look forward to her next books in the hope that a little trimming down of sub plots could improve the story greatly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By alsion on 12 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book would not have been something I would have picked up, but for a friend's recommendation. Anything French, about films and that sounds like a 'yarn' or love story would not be my thing. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to thoroughly enjoy this book, staying up late to get to the end, when I should have been in bed. The setting is refreshingly different and gives an interesting insight into "cutting edge" special effects in early films. However, it is really a crime / whodunnit novel, about the great characters which the author creates, along with fine narration. Other reviewers note that there are a lot of plot lines, but to me this the hallmark of a good whodunnit, keeps you guessing - perhaps they were expecting the book to be a simpler love story (as I was). The writing and switching of narrators was never confusing. The best book I've read in ages, and I'm not alone in thinking so, since it was narrated on BBC Radio 4 recently.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By KAW on 23 Oct. 2013
Format: Hardcover
Selling a book on the notion that it has a twist and begging the reader not to reveal it, can be a hindrance rather than a help. The book builds up to the twist, the reader looks out for sign posts and clues and then, unless it is an amazing revelation, it can't help but be an anti-climax. That said I enjoyed the journey, read the book in one sitting and thought the plot worked itself out rather well. It succeeded better than other books of this kind, if you suspend belief the twist works. I won't talk about the difficulties that I found with the ending as I don't want to ruin it for others, apart from to say it could have revealed itself more slowly, it becomes a little breathless at the end. I enjoyed her style of writing and didn't have a problem with the multiple voices. I enjoyed the book more than not.
The disappointment I felt was in the lack of being immersed in the time and place. The novel is set largely in pre 1914 and 1960's Paris, but sometimes I needed the chapter headings to remind me of this. There isn't much change of tone in the different time zones. The author must have researched the pre-war movie industry but she doesn't share much of the atmosphere with us. Maybe if that section was written in the third person, as though Juliette was telling Adele's story, more description around the feel of 1913 could be given. I felt an opportunity was lost Adele becomes a costumier and yet when she is treated to a beautiful dress, we are told p132 "..red silk with a wide skirt, the whole embroidered with tiny flowers." In my head I was seeing 1950's Worth I had to remind myself it was 1913. I wanted to know what it was like to be an actor in a silent film, I didn't really find out about that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Pots TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Dec. 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Hitchman has crafted a very (perhaps overly) complicated thriller about a girl whose quest to be in movies leads her into adultery and to a part in the mystery of a movie from which a crucial part later goes missing. It is, in essence, a tale of hidden identity, though you have to read most of the story, and pick up on many hints, to get to this. It is a story infused with period detail, carefully constructed characters, and a plot woven as tight as silk. It is a first novel, and as such is awash with enough inventiveness and sharp writing to fill several novels. One can only hope that she has not burned all her creativity in one book.

The first-person narrative is not for everyone, but I enjoyed it. Unlike some authors Hitchman does it well. The story flits back and forth through time, which makes things more complicated than they would otherwise be. Had it been told in a chronological order instead of as flashbacks to memories, some of the complications would have disappeared by default. That said, the plot requires this method, as it is a protracted dig into past lives and eras. A lesbian sub-plot emerges along the way. It's alluded to subtly in the title, of course, but Hitchman doesn't pull her punches, giving the story an unexpected and graphic sexual twist.

Overall then, a very pleasing first novel, with the prospect of a few more to come. It would get five stars had a few needless convolutions been ironed out.
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