“Reaching Dawn”, by Diglee, The City is Burning, 208 p. €18.
She was born Josette in 1926, but renamed herself Georgie to be unique. Unique, she was not only by this first name. Free, scandalous and seductive, magnetic and mystical, she was the great-aunt of Maureen Wingrove, alias Diglee. In reach dawnthe feminist designer and author recounts, in the form of a long letter addressed to her deceased relative, the life of the one who was her model for a long time. “I played at being you. Wild, insolent, whimsical »she writes in the first pages of her second literary account after Surf (The City burns, 2021), where she recounted her retirement in an abbey in Morbihan.
But admiration gradually gives way to more nuanced feelings when, after a long investigation into Georgie’s life and that of her ancestors, Diglee discovers a less flattering truth. His investigations but also the writing process allow him to get out of a “hereditary danse macabre”. The writer reinvents the family novel with freshness and modernity, far from the predictable secrets and artificial suspense that sometimes characterize this genre. Nothing prepares for what she will bring to light under the varnish – or rather under Georgie’s silver wig. The book opens with a premonitory scene in this regard – on the hospital bed of her adored great-aunt, the author discovers her real hair, black and disheveled, rid of this artifice without which she had never had it. seen.
Like the impeccable wig, Georgie’s whole life is a pretense. After her death, in 2014, Diglee dives into letters, photo albums, questions the entourage of her great-aunt, unfolding a story of women whose men, objects of tragic passions, “are the notable absentees, but exert a decisive influence”, where family roles have always been blurred, almost incestuous. The year following the death of Georgie will be an explosion for the author, who puts an end to a destructive romantic relationship and breaks up with a father who has never occupied his place. As if the lives of the great-aunt and the great-niece were intrinsically linked, one is reborn when the other disappears.
A triple separation for a nested narrative in the form of self-reinvention, which is only made possible by the progressive demystification of Georgie. Behind the apparently free and audacious woman hides another, secretly dependent on violent men, because it is “furiously romantic”idle and bohemian, but loving luxury, unassuming bisexual. With subtlety, Diglee strips, in short and poetic sentences, the statue of the one who was his heroine, without taking away his love.
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