A #1 bestseller in France and translated into over twenty-five languages, Billie is one of the most beloved French novels to be published in recent years. A brilliant evocation of Paris and a moving tale of friendship, Anna Gavalda’s new novel tells the story of two young people, Billie and Franck, who, as the story opens, are trapped in a gorge in the Cevennes Mountains. Billie begins to tell stories from their lives in order to calm herself and Franck as darkness encroaches. In alternating episodes, the novel moves between recollections of the two characters’ childhoods and their dire predicament. Franck’s life has been impacted by a childhood spent with a perennially unemployed father who toyed with Christian extremism and a mother anesthetized by antidepressants. A bright kid, Franck’s future was menaced at every turn by the bigotry surrounding him. Billie’s abiding wish as an adult is to avoid ever having to come into contact with her family again. To escape from her abusive and alcohol-addled family, she was willing to do anything and everything. The wounds have not entirely healed. At the heart of Gavalda’s tender story lies a generosity of spirit that will take readers’ breath away, and an unshakable belief in the power of art to lift the most fragile among us to new vistas from which they can see futures full of hope, love, and dignity. Billie is a beautifully crafted novel for readers of all ages and from all walks of life that conveys a positive message about overcoming life’s trials and tribulations.
Born in Paris in 1970, Anna Gavalda published her first work in 1999 while working as a high school French teacher. Her first published work was the critically acclaimed collection of short stories I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere, which sold over half a million copies in her native France and was published in the US by Penguin in 2003. Gavalda has since published three novels, all of which have become bestsellers across Europe. Her first novel, Someone I Loved, was adapted to film in 2009 and her novel Hunting and Gathering was made into a film starring Audrey Tatou and Daniel Auteil. Gavalda’s novels and short stories have been translated into over forty languages. She lives in Paris.