peoplesbookprize.com/winter-2020/Michel Michelle There’s still time to read and vote for Michel-Michelle (published by victorinapress.com). ThePeoplesBookPrize was set up by Beryl Bainbridge to encourage people to read undiscovered literature and to promote literacy.
Please also vote for Danielle Maisano’s The Ardent Witness and and Nasrin Pavraz’ One Woman’s Struggle in Iran: A Prison Memoir.
More about Michel-Michelle: The 1.4min explores why the Golden Mean is important. My novel Michel-Michelle challenges fixed notions of gender and seeks to increase awareness of diversity in ourselves, our friends, our families, and others. Axel is an architect in Lille and the son of transgender Michel-Michelle, his birth mother Amelia and her partner, Naomi. Potential fatherhood brings back memories of his own childhood as he recalls his relationship with his “three mothers” and the mix of French and English in his identity. Challenged by his relationship with his partner, Sophie, he reflects on his father’s transition from male to female and his own transition from child to adult and his move from France to England.
Birth, death, and suicide mingle in his notebooks and dreams.
Michel-Michelle opens when AXEL has a few days alone in the holiday home of his deceased Grandmother to decide what to do with the neglected house. He arrives in Brittany exhausted by the demands of his partner Sophie’s depression over recent months and the events leading up to it.
It is 15 months since Sophie announced her pregnancy. It is two years since the death of his birth father, the transgender Michel-Michelle. Michel’s sex change took place during Axel’s transition from French boy to young English man, when he went to live with his birth mother, AMELIA, and her partner, NAOMI in Manchester.
During Sophie’s pregnancy, Axel proposed marriage. His surprise present was a renewal of the garden at their home in Lille, inherited from Michelle. He visits Malawi with his friend Sean from Donegal instead of having a stag party and he makes a trip to Donegal with Sophie.
Axel uses the time in the cottage to read his journal. Fond memories of holidays in Brittany as a child mingle with doubts about the part he played in Michelle’s death in the house in Lille. He is also troubled by his relationship with Sophie and by events during the pregnancy. The novel ends when Sophie plans to visit him in his Grandmother’s cottage. Have they a future together? What does fatherhood and family mean for Axel?