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The sweeping saga of one prominent French family in postwar Paris, Beirut, and Saigon—an electrifying novel of passion, greed, murder, and revenge
The Pelletiers are a prominent French family living in 1948 Beirut. The patriarch, Louis, has built a successful business that he hopes to pass on to his eldest son. With no head for management, Jean nearly sinks the company, then marries a materialistic young woman who insists they emigrate to Paris and join high society. But there is another reason Jean must leave—he has committed a terrible crime.
Youngest son Etienne is sent to make his fortune in Saigon. There, he begins investigating a covert scheme to channel smuggled goods and cash to the Viet Minh. But the evidence he collects presents a real threat to his own life.
François, the middle brother, arrives in Paris and becomes a journalist. His career takes off when he starts covering the brutal murder of an actress that seems part of a pattern of killings. But the killer he’s chasing may be closer to him than he realizes.
Eighteen-year Hélène follows her brothers to Paris seeking adventure and soon throws herself into the dissolute life of an art student. But she must grow up fast when she is called upon to travel to Indochina and continue the investigation Etienne started.
Epic in scope, and a vivid depiction of French life in the booming postwar years, The Wide World is a riveting saga that is at once gripping and classic.
“A prizewinning writer tells the story of postwar France through the secrets and lies of one wonderfully monstrous family . . . The Wide World is one of Lemaitre’s best . . . Compellingly plotted, stuffed with great characters, thought-provokingly situated in history—honestly, what else do you want from a novel?”
—David Mills, The Times (London)
“Lemaitre goes back in time through the extraordinary lives of ordinary heroes. A flamboyant human comedy.”
—Le Figaro magazine
- “A sweeping saga of family fortunes and ill-gotten gains…Lemaitre is following in Balzac’s illustrious footsteps…skillfully contrasting the vibrancy, exoticism, and dangerous excitement of Saigon and Beirut in the years after the Second World War with the drab, careworn city that Paris has become…There is also a great deal of psychological depth in the Frenchman’s storytelling.”—Tobias Grey, Financial Times
- “A family saga as well as a social and historical novel, The Wide World is a jubilant and exciting dive into the postwar period in Beirut, Saigon, and Paris.”—Sandrine Bajos, Le Parisien
- “Adventure, humor, striking characters, unexpected twists, and shattering revelations—all of Lemaitre’s storytelling strengths are deployed once again to continue painting a tumultuous picture of the twentieth century.”—François Lestavel, Paris Match
- On Sale
- Dec 5, 2023
- Page Count
- 512 pages
- Little, Brown and Company