‘Strike Your Heart’ by Amélie Nothomb – “Home is where it Hurts”


Strike Your Heart’ by Amélie Nothomb  (2017) – 135 pages                   Translated from the French by Alison Anderson


‘Strike Your Heart’ is a modern-day fable for adults. It is written in the style of a fairy tale, simple and stark and crystalline.

Marie is nineteen and pretty. She is quite sure that the whole world belongs to her. But then Marie gets pregnant and has to get married to the most handsome rich boy in her class Olivier and has a baby Diane. Everyone including Olivier tells Marie what a beautiful baby Diane is, and Marie soon becomes jealous of the baby.

Your mother isn’t cruel, my treasure. She’s just jealous.”

She always has been, that’s just the way it is, there’s nothing you can do about it. Jealous, do you understand that?”

The two-year-old said yes.

Marie, the mother, isn’t unkind or crazy. She just does not show her young little daughter Diane any tenderness. Later Marie has three more babies whom she treats much nicer than Diane.

It would be easy for Diane to see her mother as wicked, but Diane does not see it that way. She is hurt by her mother’s cold attitude toward her, but due to the love and support she receives from the other people around her including her father Olivier she does not turn bitter. She sees her mother Marie as an ice goddess.

‘Strike Your Heart’ is a well-done novel by the prolific Amélie Nothomb who has already written 26 novels and is only 53. She varies her subject and approach each time, and I usually can’t wait to see what she has come up with next. Her novels are usually short and fun to read. Here is an old piece I wrote about her almost ten years ago.

I enjoy stories where the writer treats modern life as an ancient fairy tale. It gives us a simpler plainer perspective on our complicated lives.

I suppose in an ideal world a mother would treat each of her children with the same amount of love and tenderness, but there are so many factors that enter in to family dynamics that there are bound to be differences. The children who get too little love may have it better than the ones who get too much love which may lead to spoiling. A lot depends on how the kid deals with his or her own situation.

This cover which I show above seems to me like a terribly poor choice for such a colorful novel, but ‘Strike Your Heart’ is well worth reading, and I am pretty sure you will enjoy the simple hard-edged prose.


Grade :  A-



5 responses to this post.

  1. Oh my goodness, that really is an awful cover!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. I’ve been looking at this one, so thanks for the review. I don’t care for the cover either

    Liked by 1 person


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