Home > 2010, 21st Century, French Literature, Highly Recommended, Novella, Vigan Delphine de > Loyalties by Delphine de Vigan – excellent

Loyalties by Delphine de Vigan – excellent

Loyalties by Delphine de Vigan (2018) Original French title: Les Loyautés.

Les loyautés.


Ce sont les liens invisibles qui nous attachent aux autres –aux morts comme aux vivants—, ce sont des promesses que nous avons murmurées et dont nous ignorons l’écho, des fidélités silencieuses, ce sont des contrats passés le plus souvent avec nous-mêmes, des mots d’ordre admis sans les avoir entendus, des dettes que nous abritons dans les replis de nos mémoires.

Ce sont les lois de l’enfance qui sommeillent à l’intérieur de nos corps, les valeurs au nom desquelles nous nous tenons droits, les fondements qui nous permettent de résister, les principes illisibles qui nous rongent et nous enferment. Nos ailes et nos carcans.

Ce sont les tremplins sur lesquels nos forces se déploient et les tranchées dans lesquelles nous enterrons nos rêves.



They’re invisible ties that bind us to others –to the dead as well as the living. They’re promises we’ve murmured but whose echo we don’t hear, silent fidelities. They’re contracts we make, mostly with ourselves, passwords acknowledged though unheard, debts we harbour in the folds of our memories.

They’re the rules of childhood dormant within our bodies, the values in whose name we stand up straight, the foundations that enable us to resist, the illegible principles that eat away at us and confine us. Our wings and our fetters.

They’re the springboards from which our strength takes flight and the trenches in which we bury our dreams.

This is the foundation of Loyalties by Delphine de Vigan. Through four characters, she will explore this notion of loyalties and how they affect our vision of the events we live and our decision-making process.

Hélène is a science teacher in a Parisian collège (middle school in France) and she has Théo and Mathis in her class. When the book opens, she has noticed that something is wrong with Théo but, based on her own experience, she makes the wrong conclusion. She thinks he’s molested at home.

She’s right in her observation, though. Théo is on a dangerous path. His parents are divorced and he’s split between his loyalty to each parent. Her mother is embittered by the divorce and doesn’t want to know anything about the weeks Théo spends with his father. Théo’s father is unemployed, broke and depressed. He barely makes it out of bed. Théo has promised not to say anything to his paternal grandmother. He remains silent. Théo has discovered that alcohol brings a welcome numbness and experiments drunkenness.

Mathis is Théo’s best friend and they’re each other’s only friend. Mathis drinks with Théo, in a hidden spot at the collège. As Théo’s drinking increases, Mathis feels more and more ill-at-ease with their games. But talking to an adult means betraying his friend.

Cécile is Mathis’s mother. She notices that something is different with Mathis and she doesn’t like Théo. She’ll make a discovery about her husband that will shatter her life and destroy the personality her husband shoed her in.

Delphine de Vigan explores how Hélène and Cécile’s pasts shaped them and still influence who they are and how they react to problems. As they got older, a new web of loyalties added to the one they weaved in childhood. When things go wrong, which loyalty will be the wings and which one will be the fetter?

Théo and Mathis are bound by their loyalties to their parents and to each other.

Hélène turned the loyalty to the frightened little girl she was to a loyalty to her students. She knows something is seriously wrong with Théo, even after the school nurse has examined him and assured her that there was no trace of violence on his body. She still watches him, tries to talk to his mother, shows that she cares, even if her actions are sometimes over-the-top and put her at odds with her hierarchy.

Will Théo get the help he needs? That’s for you to discover in this excellent novella. Delphine de Vigan expertly explores the concept of loyalty through a plausible story.

Highly recommended.

PS : Sorry, I haven’t found out how to insert a book cover with a proper layout with the new WP editor. I’m going to ask for help…

  1. March 31, 2021 at 10:17 am

    It’s good to see how much you enjoyed this. I loved Nothing Holds Back the Night when I read it a few years ago, such a compelling account of the author’s mother and the air of tragedy that surrounded her life.


    • April 1, 2021 at 9:05 am

      She’s an excellent writer. If you’ve never read Underground Time, I recommend it too.


  2. March 31, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    Karen/Booker Talk has a recent post in which the positioning and sizing of images was discussed.
    I have a young friend who started dealing with her problems at middle school age by drinking. Unfortunately, her teachers just found her disruptive. Eventually she got counselling and mental care, and she’s doing well. Sort of, she’s missed two years of schooling. It’s a hard life being a kid.


    • April 1, 2021 at 9:08 am

      Thanks. I’ve seen Karen’s post but didn’t find the answer I needed. I’ll dig further this weekend when I have more time.

      Teachers should be a good alarm system for students but I understand that they don’t have time to do it. Here, Hélène goes too far, does a lot more than what is expected of her and she seems to have lost her marbles. But her determination to see beyond appearances is crucial.

      If you’ve never read Delphine de Vigan, I recommend her books.


  3. April 1, 2021 at 1:56 am

    Sounds like this is an interesting look at several difficult situations for the characters. Those middle school years are not easy under most circumstances anyway.

    Besides Booker Talk’s excellent posts on using block editor, there’s also a useful YouTube channel, WP Apprentice, with a specific video on getting text next to an image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMTTZFN_ozc


    • April 1, 2021 at 9:12 am

      Teachers say that teaching middle school is the hardest, no?

      It’s a great book and if you’ve never read Delphine de Vigan, it’s a good place to start. I loved her two other books I’ve read, Underground Time (an accurate description of the corporate world) and Nothing Holds Back the Night, where she writes about her childhood with a bipolar mother.

      I’ve seen Karen’s post but it wasn’t enough for me and thanks for the YouTube link, I’ll look into it this weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 2, 2021 at 2:12 am

        The link I sent is very basic, you might want to explore the other videos by the same person that go into more detail about Gutenberg.

        Thanks for the recommendations!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. April 1, 2021 at 12:52 pm

    I think re the WP issue much depends on whether you’re on a free or paid plan. I have a free blog and have always done fairly simple layout and so have just about managed to work out how to do that in blocks. I don’t like it, and it isn’t intuitive as the old system but I guess there isn’t any option… 😦


  5. April 1, 2021 at 7:43 pm

    I haven’t read any Delphine de Vigan yet, but I might and, if so, I might start with this one!
    I’m also struggling with the new WP. In fact, I hate it! I’ve figured out the photo thing. I hope you’ll figure out too. Enjoy your weekend.


    • April 1, 2021 at 10:16 pm

      Les heures souterraines is excellent too.

      I haven’t spent much time on the new WP, I’ll probably figure it out when I invest enough time to understand how it works.


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