Camille Kouchner's childhood was marked by sun-drenched summers in the south of France, where a vibrant cast of family and friends would gather at their Sanary-sur-Mer house. This familia grande, which included much of the country's elite, spent memorable days and nights laughing, debating, drinking, and dancing. But a long-held secret poisoned Camille's memories. The Familia Grande explores the dynamics of abuse, and the questions of guilt and shame surrounding it. Published in France in 2021, the book sparked an important conversation about incest, and the attitudes and laws that have so often allowed influential men to evade consequences for their crimes.
Free of voyeurism and elegantly written, The Familia Grande is also an artistic success ... The Familia Grande is less about incest than it is about May 1968, the relationship between a daughter and mother, and the destruction of a family ... The translation, by Adriana Hunter, is tonally faithful and frequently creative, though on occasion Évelyne loses a bit of her sparkle ... Kouchner’s short sentences and simple diction evoke a child’s point of view; but if her prose is spare, it is not childish. Every member of the family is fully drawn — except her twin brother. He is assigned a pseudonym, to protect his privacy ... The book is a sharply focused portrait of a certain kind of privileged French family of its era, first revolutionary and then bourgeois.
This record of Kouchner’s coming to terms with the secret set off a new #MeToo movement in France—one that confronts incest. It also resulted in her stepfather’s resignation from Parliament. Kouchner writes in poetically short sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, helping to soften the raw and difficult subject matter.