Ferney, Alice 1961–
Ferney, Alice 1961–
PERSONAL: Born 1961; children: three.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o French Publisher's Agency, 853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003.
CAREER: Writer, novelist, economist, and educator. University of Orleans, Orleans, France, professor of economics.
AWARDS, HONORS: Prix Culture et Bibliotheques, 1997, for Grâce et dénuement.
Le ventre de la fée, Actes Sud (Arles, France), 1993.
L'élégance des veuves (novel), Actes Sud (Arles, France), 1995.
Grâce et dénuement (novel), Actes Sud (Arles, France), 1997, translated by Emily Read as Angelina's Children, Bitter Lemon Press, 2005.
La conversation amoureuse (novel), Actes Sud (Arles, France), 2000, translated by Helen Stevenson as The Lovers, Atlantic Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Dans la guerre (novel), Actes Sud (Arles, France), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: French novelist Alice Ferney is also a professor of economics. Two of her novels have been translated into English, one of which, The Lovers, chronicles the tenuous flirtation between a happily married woman expecting her second child and an older man who is ready to end his own long marriage. When the novel begins, Pauline Arnoult meets Gilles André, the father one of the children who attends the same school as Pauline's daughter, for surreptitious drinks. Ferney assigns considerable importance to the tension and potential of this event; the account of the couple's secretive date takes up more than two-thirds of the novel. However, their brief association is not consummated sexually, and no infidelity actually occurs. Ferney "counterpoints her main couple, dancing tentatively round a possible infidelity, with others in the same social circle, who congregate for the evening at a tennis club," observed Adam Mars-Jones in the London Guardian. Ferney "is capable of sending an extreme lyrical pulse through her prose," commented Mars-Jones. In the end, it seems as though the revitalizing effect of a possible affair is just as energizing as the actual betrayal of a spouse.
Ferney's novel Angelina's Children is a "grim portrait of gypsies" and their lives in a commandeered home in an unnamed French town, noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Angelina is the middle-aged matriarch of a group of Gypsies consisting of her five sons, their wives, and their daughters. The group has always lived at the margins of French society. Prematurely aged and widowed because her husband was beaten to death after being caught stealing, Angelina struggles to keep her family together as local villagers attempt to evict the squatters from the abandoned garden where they have taken up residence. Their dismal existence is brightened by the appearance of Esther, a local librarian who appears one day to read stories to the children. Harriet Klausner, writing on the Best Reviews Web site, called the book "an excellent tale that condemns the hypocrisy of western society's claims of a melting pot that welcomes the poor, downtrodden," and other social and economic outcasts.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Guardian (London, England), February 24, 2002, Adam Mars-Jones, "My Dinner with André," review of The Lovers.
Kirkus Reviews, August, 2005, review of Angelina's Children, p. 870.
Best Reviews, http://www.thebestreviews.com/ (September 15, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of Angelina's Children.