Inès Cagnati, Liesl Schillinger, Liesl Schillinger
A haunting and powerful portrait of a young French girl, and her desire to escape the world in which she is born, without losing her identity
In the marshy countryside of southwestern France, fourteen-year-old Galla rides her battered bicycle twenty miles, twice a month, from the high school she attends on scholarship back to her family’s rocky, barren farm. Galla’s loving, overwhelmed mother would prefer she stay at home, where Galla can look after her neglected little sisters and defuse her father’s brutal rages. What does this dutiful daughter owe her family, and what does she owe her own ambition? In Inès Cagnati’s haunting and visually powerful novel Free Day, winner of the 1973 Prix Roger Nimier, Galla makes an extra journey one frigid winter Saturday to surprise her mother. As she anticipates their reunion, she mentally retraces the crooked path of her family’s past and the more recent map of her school life as a poor but proud student. Galla’s dense interior monologue blends with the landscape around her, building a powerful portrait of a girl who yearns to liberate herself from the circumstances that confine her, without losing their ties to her heart.