Guillemette le Vallon de la Ménodière
Her mother does everything just so. She picks up sugar lumps with tongs, never laughs out loud, always smiles and speaks in hushed tones so as not to disturb even when there’s no one to disturb. Her father has fine lisle socks and in summer wears navy blue espadrilles. Meanwhile, Guillemette dreams of hob-nailed wooden clogs, of heading to a fast food restaurant on Sunday afternoons, and joining the majorettes. Her greatest joy is turning Claude François up to full volume on her record player. Oh dear, her family are only keen on Bach and Chopin.
She definitely doesn’t belong in this family. There must have been some mistake at birth.
Guillemette’s idol is the woman who runs the cooked meat stall, her friend Michelle’s mother. She smokes Dunhills, has blood-red fingernails and bronzed skin the colour of the croissants in her sister’s bakery. When she exhales her cigarette smoke she’s like a film star.
So the decision’s been made, Guillemette is going to change families. Aged seven and clutching her little suitcase, she announces to her parents: “I’m leaving you.”
At the last moment her father scuppers all her plans.
Why does everything have to be so complicated?
The author’s tragedy is to have been born an aristocrat with a deep-seated desire to sweep aside fusty traditions and wallow in the colour and noise of the general population. It doesn’t end well, but that’s not her fault.
Guillemette de Terrasson de Montleau lives in the 20th Arrondissement of Paris. She is an artist who creates unique objects, turning an ancient slipper into a work of art, and some odds and ends of string into a precious jewel. I Wish My Name was Dupont is her first book.