Valerie Perrin, Cambior lacquer air fire [Changing the Water to the Flowers],
A celebrated and award-winning book by Valerie Perrin is the story of the resilience of a young orphaned woman called Violette, who finds herself with an unexpected love affair after a failed marriage and the loss of a daughter who is buried in the cemetery where she works as a caretaker.
The protagonist’s holds a very beautiful secular view of death, and she narrates it through the reports of each burial by reporting the last words or gestures of family members on the graves of their loved ones before they are buried. It seems that God is not there but the book is full of love that had not been given, love received, love that goes astray, love that shrinks, and love that causes death. Surrounding the protagonist are figures from the past and present. However, it is the simple, firm and finally luminous that emerges in the figure of chaplain Father Cedric. In his ability to enjoy the small joys of life and without controversy strongly affirms his belonging to Christ and his confidence in having the hundredfold already down here, as happens at the end of the book with a fatherhood realised in the right way. Dazzling and a few moments from the end of the book is the quotation from the first letter of John (3.14-18) during a burial; “We know that we have passed from death to life if we love our brothers”. When I came to read it, I had to stop because of the emotion and the book, beautiful in itself, lit up again for me in an instant.