Le Livre de Perle, de Timothée de Fombelle

2 min

The Book of Pearl (“Le Livre de Perle"), by Timothée de Fombelle

In The Book of Pearl, Timothée de Fombelle continues his exploration of children’s literature, creating a narrative blending magic and realism, where fairy tales meet the secrets of our times.

© DR

A Stage Writer

Born in 1973 and qualified secondary-school Literature teacher, Timothée de Fombelle started out teaching in the Paris suburbs, then in Vietnam. A lifelong lover of writing and the theatre, in 1990 he founded the student theatre company Troupe des Bords de Scène. He made his name as a writer in 2002 thanks to his play Le Phare, which won the Prix du Souffleur.


His first novel, Toby Alone (“Tobie Lolness"), published in 2006, had a strong impact around the world and has received around twenty international awards, including the Marsh Award. Eight years and ten books later, The Book of Pearl is another impressive children’s book by the author.


Between two worlds

In an imaginary kingdom, a young prince, Ilian, has been condemned to exile by his jealous brother. Thrown into a parallel reality, he is picked up by a couple of candy-makers, the Pearls, on the eve of the Second World War. Renamed Joshua, he goes to the front without realising that Olia, the fairy he was in love with in his world, has just found him.


The Book of Pearl describes his coming of age as he struggles to escape his fate, but also, and above all, features a series of nested narratives and different stories inspired by secrets, the past and fairy tales.


Mysteries and adventures

In The Book of Pearl, Timothée de Fombelle creates contrasts between chapters and plots, combining the magic of one world with the realism of another. Joshua’s story is narrated by the author himself, as though he is walking us through the memories of his characters. In this novel which resembles an earnest appeal for our sympathy, the writer comes eloquently to the defence of the reality of fairy tales.


Poetry thus sits alongside mystery and adventure, explaining nostalgia and the difficulty of living life without a past. Timothée de Fombelle's kaleidoscopic style takes readers on a journey full of magic and emotion.


Unanimous appreciation

Lauded by critics and beloved of readers, The Book of Pearl added several awards to Timothée de Fombelle’s already well-decorated career. His first novel Toby Alone was translated into 28 languages and won many awards, and The Book of Pearl won the Pépites Award at the Montreuil Youth Book Fair in 2014.


The Book of Pearl also won the Brive Book Fair Children’s Book Award before being nominated, in 2015, by the Board On Books for Young People for the Hans Christian Andersen Prize, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Children’s Literature.

The Institut français and the book

In June 2016 The Book of Pearl by Timothée de Fombelle benefited from the publication assistance programme for its release in Mexico. Find out more about the Publication Assistance Programmes