You start the forty days of Lent, in your ice-cold convent, receiving neither visitors nor letters, and whilst you settle into the comfortable intimacy of a God made to your own measure, I stay in the wilderness.
So begins this beautiful and deeply moving story of unfulfilled love. Forty petitions follow, in which the narrator uncompromisingly explores her feelings of intense longing and intense hatred for her beloved. In the course of her story the strands of a life devastated by the war in Spain and by a mother's betrayal are brought compellingly together. Only one response will come
Written with extraordinary grace and intensity of feeling, My Original Sin is a novel which, once read, cannot be forgotten. The novel, first published in France under the title Un Corps en Trop, was the first book by Marie Rouillier, who had been a classics teacher. She committed suicide just prior to its publication; she was 42.
'Why did I sit up all night to read it? Why am I telling you which I am to read it? It is not just the ravishing beauty of the writing though such sexy prose is rare. It is not just the ending which is shocking and inevitable and craftily handled Finer than them all is the complete seriousness about religious experience.'
'A working which is in the best literary tradition of short and and intense love stories.'
'Marie-Victoire Rouillier would never have believed in that for which she shows herself so terribly gifted: literature, that lay version of the sacredotal.'
Jerome Garcin, L'Evenement du Jeudi
Translated from the French by Alan José
Hardback 160pp, ISBN 0 948238 17 8; £9.99