In His Own Image is a darkly poetic novel that explores the disconnects between love and passion, photography and reality, and time and memory. It traces the life of a Corsican woman called Antonia from modest beginnings in a countryside town to receiving her first camera from her uncle, at 14, to witnessing and capturing some of the most dramatic political and social events that happen during her lifetime.
Antonia’s story is told in a non-linear fashion, jumping backwards and forwards, allowing Ferrari to explore the malleable nature of time while also presenting the perspectives of other significant characters from her life. The ending of the book is particularly moving, and the translation as a whole, by Alison Anderson, is beautifully done – the prose is fluid and natural, and the sections written in a religious register are authentic rather than archaic.
Although In His Own Image has all the makings of a European classic, the writing style occasionally veers towards the classical in an outmoded sense. It is a story that is told rather than shown, and this saps the narrative’s sense of immediacy – as if we are reading a biography of a fictional character, rather than experiencing the story ourselves.
In His Own Image, Jérôme Ferrari [trans. Alison Anderson] (Europa Editions)
Price: £12.99. Info: here
words JOSHUA REES
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