Home > 2010, 21st Century, Beach and Public Transports Books, French Literature, Highly Recommended, Novel > Malamute by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent – French Nature Writing

Malamute by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent – French Nature Writing

Malamute by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent. (2021) Not available in English.

Jean-Paul Didierlaurent is better known for his book The Reader on the 6.27 which I haven’t read. It sounds like a book about books and a rather feel-good novel. Malamute has nothing to do with that brand of literature and veers towards Noir and Nature Writing.

We’re in November, at the beginning of the ski season in La Voljoux, in the Vosges mountains. Germain Grosdemanges is in his eighties, a widower who lives in a remote farm. He’s getting older and his only daughter Françoise worries about him. She lives near Paris and can’t visit him very often. She strikes a deal with Basile, her cousin’s son. Basile is a snow groomer who will work in La Voljoux during the upcoming ski season.

The arrangement is mutually beneficial: Basile can stay rent-free at the farm if he keeps an eye on Germain and does a bit of housework. Peace of mind for Françoise. Savings for a broke seasonal worker. Basile accepts and Germain surrenders to Françoise’s command because it keeps the looming nursing home at bay.

Meanwhile Emmanuelle settles in the farm near Germain’s; she’s also a snow-grooming agent. Her father died a few months ago and she inherited that farm that she’d never heard of. Her parents were Slovak emigrants who came to the village in 1976. Her father Dragan wanted to be a musher and drive tourists around on his sleigh. Their business never took off, partly due to the hostility of the villagers. Her parents left their farm abruptly and never came back to La Voljoux. They were miserable after that and now Emmanuelle wants to know what happened.

She comes to introduce herself to Germain, who recognizes her mother in her. He’s unwilling to tell what happened all those years ago. Something he keeps as a very well-guarded secret. Something he’s ashamed of.

A snowstorm arrives and disrupts the village’s quiet life. Emmanuelle and Basile work in the same snow-grooming team and work very hard on the slopes but also driving snow-plows to clear the roads. Germain and them are forced to get closer. Secrets resurface…

Malamute by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent belongs to Nature Writing. It could be a Gallmeister book.

Germain used to work as a woodcutter and loves the forest and trees in general. He has a collection of woodcuts and he loves imagining what these trees went through. He looks at them as witnesses of times long gone. To him, they are pieces of History. He has this grumpy-old-man vibe that you meet in books by American Nature Writing authors.

The mountains and the woods surrounding La Voljoux are characters in themselves, they are part of the plot. The snowfalls lock Germain, Basile and Emmanuelle in the farm. They can go out because they drive snowplows, otherwise, they’d be totally snowed in. The impact of the heavy snowfalls moves the story forward. La Voljoux is a little village in the mountains, people live there and everyone knows everyone’s business. Its survival depends on the success of the ski season and the weather plays an important role in the villagers’ lives and how the events unfold.

Didierlaurent writes a very atmospheric book that rings true. His characters have names that are typical from the Vosges region. He’s from the area and it seeps through his style, giving the book an authentic flavor and an incredible sense of place. Despite the historical snow storm of the book, it made me want to go hiking in the Vosges mountains. It’s only a few hours away from Lyon, so who knows?…

Malamute has not been translated into English but The Reader on the 6.27 and its sequel The Rest of their Lives have been translated by Ros Schwartz. Malamute was published in 2021, let’s hope that Ros Schwartz is working on it too.

Highly recommended. And that was another very good choice by Camille, my Kube libraire.

  1. April 24, 2023 at 12:24 am

    Sounds great. I really need to read Le Liseur du 6h27 first, I think


    • April 24, 2023 at 8:54 pm

      Malamute is great, I’m not too tempted by Le Liseur du 6h27. Let me know how you like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. April 30, 2023 at 8:59 am

I love to hear your thoughts, thanks for commenting. Comments in French are welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Literary Potpourri

A blog on books and other things literary

Adventures in reading, running and working from home

Liz Dexter muses on freelancing, reading, and running ...

Book Jotter

Reviews, news, features and all things books for passionate readers

A Simpler Way

A Simpler Way to Finance

Buried In Print

Cover myself with words

Bookish Beck

Read to live and live to read

Grab the Lapels

Widening the Margins Since 2013

Gallimaufry Book Studio

“To leave the reader free to decide what your work means, that’s the real art; it makes the work inexhaustible.” -- Ursula K. Le Guin

Aux magiciens ès Lettres

Pour tout savoir des petits et grands secrets de la littérature


Adventures in reading

The Pine-Scented Chronicles

Learn. Live. Love.

Contains Multitudes

A reading journal

Thoughts on Papyrus

Exploration of Literature, Cultures & Knowledge

His Futile Preoccupations .....

On a Swiftly Tilting Planet

Sylvie's World is a Library

Reading all you can is a way of life

JacquiWine's Journal

Mostly books, with a little wine writing on the side

An IC Engineer

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Pechorin's Journal

A literary blog

Somali Bookaholic

Discovering myself and the world through reading and writing

Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

Supporting and promoting books by Australian women

Lizzy's Literary Life (Volume One)

Celebrating the pleasures of a 21st century bookworm

The Australian Legend

Australian Literature. The Independent Woman. The Lone Hand

Messenger's Booker (and more)

Australian poetry interviews, fiction I'm reading right now, with a dash of experimental writing thrown in

A Bag Full Of Stories

A Blog about Books and All Their Friends

By Hook Or By Book

Book Reviews, News, and Other Stuff

madame bibi lophile recommends

Reading: it's personal

The Untranslated

A blog about literature not yet available in English

Intermittencies of the Mind

Tales of Toxic Masculinity

Reading Matters

Book reviews of mainly modern & contemporary fiction


words, images and musings on life, literature and creative self expression


Book reviews by someone who loves books ...

Dolce Bellezza

~for the love of literature

Cleopatra Loves Books

One reader's view

light up my mind

Diffuser * Partager * Remettre en cause * Progresser * Grandir

South of Paris books

Reviews of books read in French,English or even German

1streading's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Tredynas Days

A Literary Blog by Simon Lavery

Ripple Effects

Serenity is golden... But sometimes a few ripples are needed as proof of life.

Ms. Wordopolis Reads

Eclectic reader fond of crime novels

Time's Flow Stemmed

Wild reading . . .

A Little Blog of Books

Book reviews and other literary-related musings


Lectures épicuriennes

Tony's Reading List

Too lazy to be a writer - Too egotistical to be quiet

Whispering Gums

Books, reading and more ... with an Australian focus ... written on Ngunnawal Country


Thinking, writing, thinking about writing...

%d bloggers like this: