Thursday, 12 January 2012

"Belle Famille," - "Nice Family," by Arthur Dreyfus

Chapter 3 - résumé from original French by Frencheuropean

Madec, who is seven years old, has an older brother called Vladimir and a younger brother, Atonin. While the other two are blonde and of easy-going temperament, Madec, who is ginger haired, instead has the manners of a peasant, as odd in his family as his first name.

The father, Stéphane, really took to that Celtic sounding first name during a medical conference in Ireland. His wife reluctantly accepted it, while saying to him that he "was taking responsibility for that kid," two weeks after the child was born by emergency Caesarian because of a rare accident involving the umbilical cord.

Laurence, who has strict educational principles, and imposes on her family a bland organic diet, has, all the same, bought a video game for her sons. Madec, seeing his brothers stupidly zapping with the remote control doubts that he is of the same flesh and blood as them and decides to go out.

It is a Wednesday in Autumn and not a school day. The parents are on duty at the hospital and as the Macand brothers are incredibly sensible, they are left to their own devices for the day. Madec goes down, bare-footed to the beach and thinks about his chameleon, which his father has welcomed with enthusiasm, because he doesn't have very much to say to his son and the chameleon always gives him something to talk about.

To see just how red his skin can go, Madec undresses completely and goes bathing. He is happy because he is totally red in the waves.

Across from the beach, the nurse Francine Frêle sees him and rushes to cross the road and find him. Her chin meets the bumper of a lorry carrying ten tons of oysters. She dies and her brain is mixed up with the crushed shells. Madec comes and asks if she is dead.

Stéphane Macand gives his wife his opinion of the event in this way:

"With breath smelling of Aquavit, Stéphane Marcand explains to his wife that there was nothing they could have done, that they weren't there, either of them - you as well as me.That accidents just happen by accident."

Laurence, dissociating herself from manslaughter by her son, is more shocked by the fact that he was walking around totally naked in public view, placing the blame on the proximity of the nudist (and homosexual) beach, set up by the complaisant authorities according the permissive values of the left.

Regarding her husband, she finds him feeble and uninteresting. He turns to alcohol and that is even the object of "private jokes," at the hospital, but as he is a good diagnostician...

Laurence, a frustrated woman, enjoys underlining that her husband is a loser.

Madec is punished, the nurse is buried. Later there will be an investigation to determine the extent of responsibility of the nurse and Madec's parents for the accident.

With strong glue provided by the town council, school children are each going to stick an oyster shell onto the victim's grave. In the course of time, this will become a renowned place of pilgrimage, which will bring in a lot of money for the town council, which, being grateful, will honour Sandrine Frêle, "for her involvement," in this process.


Note: the novel, "Belle Famille," can be purchased from Amazon France

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