Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Book review of The Madeleine Project by Clara Beaudoux

French Village Diaries book review The Madeleine Project by Clara Beaudoux
The Madeleine Project

Clara Beaudoux on Tour July 12-18 with 

The Madeleine Project

(biography/history) Release date: September 12, 2017 at New Vessel Press ISBN: 978-1939931498 288 pages Website Goodreads    


A young woman moves into a Paris apartment and discovers a storage room filled with the belongings of the previous owner, a certain Madeleine who died in her late nineties, and whose treasured possessions nobody seems to want. In an audacious act of journalism driven by personal curiosity and humane tenderness, Clara Beaudoux embarks on The Madeleine Project, documenting what she finds on Twitter with text and photographs, introducing the world to an unsung 20th century figure. Along the way, she uncovers a Parisian life indelibly marked by European history. This is a graphic novel for the Twitter age, a true story that encapsulates one woman's attempt to live a life of love and meaning together with a contemporary quest to prevent that existence from slipping into oblivion. Through it all, The Madeleine Project movingly chronicles, and allows us to reconstruct, intimate memories of a bygone era.


The synopsis of this book instantly piqued my interest. The romance of a forgotten life stored away in a basement, tinged with sadness because seemingly no one who knew Madeleine was interested in the memories it contained. As Clara begins to open each box and suitcase, she shares the contents on Twitter, and like discovering buried treasure, the anticipation and excitement about what else she might find soon builds up.

I originally thought this was going to be a book based on her Twitter story, however with the addition of some of her thoughts, it is actually a direct replication of her Twitter feed. This is unusual and at first it didn’t feel much like I was reading a book, more scrolling through my Twitter feed, however I soon began to appreciate the benefit – the photos. Clara’s way sharing of Madeleine’s life is a very visual one and the images of the boxes, envelopes and other personal effects are cleverly composed. It felt like I was there each step of the way and I found it difficult to stop scrolling through, intrigued to see what came next. Alongside the pictures, Clara talks to Madeleine, asking her questions about her life and the possessions she chose to keep hold of and I enjoyed her one-way dialogue. Like Clara, I felt a lot of affection for Madeleine and I learned a lot through her life and memories. I also began to wonder how many more ‘Madeleines’ there are, hidden away in lofts and basements, forgotten for now, but awaiting the right person to discover them.

This is a fascinating social history project and I’d like to thank Clara for sharing her discovery with the world and doing so with respect and compassion.


French Village Diaries book review The Madeleine Project by Clara Beaudoux
Clara Beaudoux
Clara Beaudoux is a Paris-based journalist for the France Info news network. The Madeleine Project has been wildly popular in France. You can follow her on Twitter at @Clarabdx In French: on Facebook, The Madeleine Project page, and the author's main website
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French Village Diaries book review The Madeleine Project by Clara Beaudoux


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