Grey Souls By Philippe Claudel

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The Independent Culture

On a bitter December morning in 1917 in France, within spitting distance of the trenches, a group of town officials have gathered around the body of a 10-year-old girl known as Belle de Jour. A young man is convicted of her murder and executed. Twenty years on, the novel's nameless narrator pieces together the events leading up to the little girl's death. This is an atmospheric whodunit wreathed in winter mists and mystery, but given legs by a sturdy cast of rustic functionaries. Claudel's novella, elegantly translated by Adriana Hunter, explores the meaning of one small death in the midst of all-out carnage.