What if one day you found yourself sitting on a street bench somewhere, with no recollection of who you are, how you got there, where you live, what you like or dislike. What if you realize that your personality has been erased, that you are, effectively, a blank page?
Éloïse is in that street bench in the first page of La Page Blanche. She’s only able to discover her name by looking through her bag which also contains enough clues to get her home. She remembers everything needed to function, except anything remotely connected to her.
Little by little Éloïse reconstructs her life, but always as an outsider that can’t avoid making judgments about her(previous)self (what would I think about myself in this situation? What clues would my apartment give me about my own personality?). In some cases, she discovers she doesn’t like the same things or people as Old Éloïse.
Although it can be read as a “detective” story, La Page Blanche is more about Éloïse’s journey of discovery who she was and, more importantly, is. About her decision on whether to jump back into her old life or begin fresh.
The story – by Boulet – is surprisingly light and sometimes outright funny, mostly because of Éloïse’s bursts of wild imagination. Old Éloïse worked in a bookshop and she’s constantly plagued by costumers looking for the “new Marc Levy” (think Paulo Coelho meets Danielle Steel). This obsession with one fashionable author is just one of the points that La Page Blanche cleverly makes about mainstream culture and individuality.
I found the color pallet chosen by Pénélope Bagieu especially successful in reflecting Éloïse’s mood. At least it worked for me, because I had to buy the book after seeing the first pages.
From other reviews I gathered that the ending caused some division, but I loved it. It didn’t provide as much closure as expected, but it… made a point (trying to avoid spoilers) that was even more satisfying. I found myself mentally telling Éloïse “Yes! Good call!” – for someone trying to build a personality, she’s extremely relatable.
I don’t think the book is translated into English, but it should, sooner rather than later.
Other thoughts (English): Like People and Butterflies (yours?)
Other thoughts (French): madmoiZelle, Hop-Blog, A little piece off…, Ma Bouquinerie, Les Livres de George, Chez Iluze, Stellade à la plage, Deuzenn’s Garden, Miss Pipelette, Pop corn et thasse de thè, Les petits papiers de princess brunette (vos avis?)