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Bouche coussue by Mazarine Pingeot

2005, Editions Julliard, Paris

In in another chance encounter, I happened to see this book in a pile at Jo’s house. (Jo is my friend who lends me an office in her house to work on this blog, and also makes lunch for me every Monday. She’s awesome. Thanks Jo.) Anyway, I decided to take a look. Not super interesting.

Bouche coussue means "mouth sewn shut". Mazarine Pingeot is the daughter of former President François Mitterand and his mistress whose existence was kept a secret for all of her childhood. In this book she tries to tell how she felt about loving her father but but not being allowed to tell anyone about it. Before his death the secret had come out and she and her mother were able to gather at the grave with the official wife and family.

Pingeot, who has since changed her name to Mitterand Pingeot, has written several books. However, judging from the parts of this book I read, she is not an amazing writer.

Her writing style and perhaps her ambivalence make it difficult to empathize fully with her experience. She seems to have considered her father as close to perfect, while at the same time hardly being able or wanting to admit that he made the choice she would grow up a secret, which was traumatic for her.

Perhaps I was more critical of this book because I read it directly after reading the recently published Le Consentement by Vanessa Springora which in terms of writing was clearly superior in my view.

François Mitterand may have had many qualities, but he nonetheless accepted to keep his daughter a secret, choosing what was best for himself. He also appears none too innocent in his relationship with the Gabriel Matzneff affair discussed in Le Consentement, where he praised a known pedophile writer and even when he supposedly “distanced himself” from this writer, didn’t use his influence directly to keep the writing from being published. More on that in the post Le Consentement by Vanessa Springora here .

Does literature excuse everything? Does fame and power?

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