Reviewed by Jenni Cahill
Camille is sorting through the condolence letters after her beloved mother’s death when, among them, she discovers a letter from a man named Louis. In the letter, Louis details his life as a young man in pre-war France. Having never heard of Louis, Camille assumes it has been sent to her address in error but as more letters begin to arrive, Camille finds herself being drawn into Louis’ tale.
Louis speaks of Annie, his childhood sweetheart, and how the pair drifted apart after she was befriended by a wealthy young woman, who Louis refers to as Madame M. Louis and Annie are reunited a few years later and Louis learns of the fate of Annie after she left their small village with her new friend. Madame M and her husband had struggled for years to conceive a child and though Annie was still only young, she offered to act as a surrogate for them. From that moment on, events spiralled out of Annie’s control with dire consequences for all involved.
The Confidant is a tale of love, betrayal and revenge. The story is told from four perspectives; Louis’, Annie’s and Madame M’s, giving a full and rounded account of what happened to their lives, friendships and baby Louise, and Camille’s as she receives each new letter. I was a little confused by the change of perspective to begin with as it wasn’t made clear that a change was about to happen but, after that first time, I didn’t have the same problem again. The end also confused me as the entire novel was rounded up in a bizarre poem-like structure. I got the gist of what was being said but it could have been made clearer.
The first half of the book is written in small, bite-sized portions, making it very easy to read but the second half really kicks up a gear as the whole truth emerges. By then, I was hooked, eager to keep reading until I found out what happened to Annie and Madame M. The Confidant is a quick but thrilling read and though parts of it didn’t quite make sense to me (possibly due to being translated from French), I did enjoy the book, particularly the second half.