Colours of the Fire (“Couleurs de l'incendie”), by Pierre Lemaître
With Colours of the Fire, Pierre Lemaître offers a follow-up to The Great Swindle (“Au revoir là-haut”), 2013 Prix Goncourt winner, continuing his examination of the twentieth century in a police thriller which sketches a complex portrait of a woman.
A self-taught writer
Born in 1951, Pierre Lemaître is a psychologist specialising in adult vocational training. Self-taught, he began his career in literature in 2006 and published Irene (“Travail soigné”), which won the prize for best first novel at the Cognac Crime Novel Festival the same year.
In 2013, he began his inter-war period trilogy with Irene for which he was awarded the Prix Goncourt.
Portrait of a woman
Colours of the Fire is the second part of the trilogy which began with Irene in 2013. The story picks up at the moment of Marcel Péricourt's funeral in February 1927. As his only heir, his daughter Madeleine has to take responsibility for his financial empire. When her son Paul suffers a tragic fall and lands in her grandfather's coffin, leaving the young boy paralysed, she is left alone to face the challenges of her personal and professional life.
A study of the twentieth century
In Colours of the Fire, Pierre Lemaître continues the "Balzac-esque" epic he began five years earlier with Irene, this time depicting the 1929 crisis. Through the character of Madeleine, a young woman prematurely thrown into a hostile universe governed by unfamiliar rules, the author addresses the issue of women's emancipation in a world dominated by men. The deeply contemporary narrative also evokes the rise of extremism in the 30s without sacrificing the author's humour and bitter-sweet style.
A successful sequel
Highly anticipated after the enthusiasm elicited by Irene, the book has been unanimously praised by critics who have rediscovered, in this second volume, Pierre Lemaître's refined and incisive writing. Colours of the Fire will not be the last in the series, as the author has announced his plans to set the third instalment in the 1940s.
Following the film adaptation of Irene by Albert Dupontel, Pierre Lemaître is working on a script to bring his novel Colours of the Fire to the big screen.
Colours of the Fire (“Couleurs de l'incendie”) was translated into Bulgarian in 2018 with the support of the Institut français. Through its translation support programmes, the Institut français participates in the global dissemination of French-language literature.
Find out more about the translation support programmes here.