The Advent calendar

Three mythical stars to (re)discover in novels

What better subject for a novel than the chaotic lives of mythical stars?  For this new literary season, talented pens have placed three movie stars of our history front stage. An occasion for us to rediscover lives, often filled with setbacks, as fascinating as they are complex. From Ava Gardner to Elsa Morante, including Maria Schneider, a quick tour of the most captivating biographies of the moment:

A daring Ava Gardner

You obviously know the American actress Ava Gardner and her imposing allure in the The Barefoot Contessa (1954). You also know the famous painting by Gustave Courbet, The Origin of the World, representing a feminine sex from very close up. But did you know there might exist a common denominator between the two? This is the story told by Thierry Froger in his very insightful novel.

One night, after a filming session in Rome, the diva, already quite tipsy, is said to have asked her head cameraman to photograph her, inspiring himself  from one of the greatest nudes in the history of painting, actually the most scandalous: The Origin of the World. A cheeky and deliciously indecent novel.

Les nuits d’Ava, Thierry Froger, Actes Sud, 304 pages, €20

Maria Schneider the scapegoat

Already selected for the Renaudot Prize, hard to bypass this splendid and terrible life story written by one of the political journalists of Le Monde and cousin of actress Maria Schneider. The one who became, despite herself, the most scandalous comedian of the 70s is described with discretion and franchise.

On the programme: sex, drugs, gossip and more or less happy anecdotes regarding her and the big names of the cinema at the time (Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon,...). The book is mainly articulated around this terrible rape scene, improvised unbeknownst to Maria Schneider, that definitely crushed the actress in the film Last Tango in Paris. Overwhelming.

Tu t’appelais Maria Schneider, Vanessa Schneider, Grasset, 256 pages, €19

The rebirth of Elsa Morante

When Simonetta Gregio slips into the sking of the Italian novelist who made her into a writer, the result is quite impressive. A successful wager for the one who retraces a career narrated at the first person of the one who wrote La Storia (1974), not very well known in France.

The chaotic story of Elsa Morante is told here, from her early years in great poverty up to her coronation with the Strega prize (the Italian equivalent of the Goncourt), which she received in 1963 for Arturo’s Island. Her multiple adventures since her wedding with the famous writer Alberto Moravia come to life under the delicate penmanship of Simonetta Gregio. A romanced portrait, sensitive and sensual, that immerses us in the wonderful Italian Post War years

Elsa mon amour, Simonetta Gregio, Flammarion, 240 pages, €19

Also discover : Do you speak bobo ?

Héloïse Rocca

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