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Cardinal Point

Léonor de Récondo

(Sabine Wespieser Éditeur, 2017, 232 pages)

 

*** Translation sample available ***

***2017 Prix des Etudiants France-Culture Télérama***

 

Léonor de Récondo’s fifth novel Point Cardinal follows the transition of happily married father-of-two Laurent into Lauren, the woman she has always known she was but never dared to be.

Laurent hides his Saturday crossdressing sessions from his family, who think he is going to the gym when really he is putting on a dress, a wig and makeup, and dancing the afternoon away at the Zanzi Bar with Cynthia, a confident transgender woman and the only person who knows the real Laurent.

When his wife Solange finds a hairpin and a strand of long blonde hair under their bed, she thinks Laurent is cheating on her and follows him on his way to the Zanzi Bar. Their ensuing confrontation leads Laurent to gather the courage to come out to his family and set out on a journey to gender transition.

As Laurent slowly becomes Lauren, she struggles to integrate her new life with the old one, whether at home or at work. While her daughter tries to be understanding, her colleagues are confused, her wife is conflicted, and her son flat out rejects this new identity. But thanks to Cynthia’s steadfast support and mentorship, Lauren realizes that she can no longer compromise her own identity. And she is determined to go through with her transition, whatever obstacles lay ahead.

The title itself, Point Cardinal, refers to Lauren’s “cardinal point,” the place deep inside her where she can feel her true self, and which she ultimately decides to reveal.

Born in 1976, Léonor de Récondo lives in Paris. A baroque violinist and writer, she won with Amours, her previous novel published in 2015, the Prix RTL/Lire and Le prix des Libraires. Rêves oubliés (2012), about a family exile during the Spanish War, and Pietra Viva (2013) which evokes six months of the life of Michelangelo, were already a huge success.