Book Review: PETITE MORT by Beatrice Hitchman

petite mort

In my last book review here, I mentioned that I am a huge fan of choosing books on recommendation. PETITE MORT is another one of those books! This time, the recommendation came not from an awards short-list, but from an independent bookshop – one of my favourites – Gay’s The Word.

I don’t often get the chance to pop into GTW, I live (just) outside of London but study in the Midlands far away from the lure of my favourite London shops, but thanks to social media, I still find out about so many awesome new titles from my favourite booksellers while half the country away!

I really enjoyed this one, here’s just a quick review, cross-posted from my Goodreads account.

PETITE MORT | Beatrice Hitchman| 5* of 5

Adèle Roux is a 17-year-old aspiring silent film actress who runs away from her provincial town in the south of France to Paris, with dreams of taking up at Pathé and emulating the beguiling Terpsichore. Unfortunately for Adèle, such high aspirations aren’t as easy to achieve as she’d hoped, and instead of walking into a starring role she finds herself embarking on an affair with Terpsichore’s film inventor husband to advance her fledgling film career.
Installed as a concubine and personal assistant in Terpsichore’s home, Adèle begins to care less for her dreams of a film career and more for the beautiful, brittle Terpsichore, whose own history is seemingly pitted with mystery and secrets…

It’s so difficult to review a book with a big twist – I don’t want to ruin the mystery of the story and that really fantastic big reveal at the end! So briefly,

Petite Mort is a story delicately woven and unlike anything I’ve read previously. The characters are complex and intriguing to learn about. Indeed, Hitchman seems to know exactly when and exactly how much character history to introduce – in tantalising flashes – so that the story and the mystery unfolds without being either illogical or predictable.

It was also a joy to read a great novel with queer characters in a sensitive affair. The title does hint at this; the ‘petite mort’ being an euphemistic term for ‘orgasm’; the sexual exploits of the characters are critical to the book, and are handled wonderfully and in a way that isn’t sensationalist or smutty.

I would reccommend Petite Mort to fans of Margaret Atwood and Sara Gruen, and to anyone who enjoys fiction with a queer historical angle, or anyone who loves a good ‘whodunnit’.

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