Le Siècle d’Emma [Fanny Vaucher & Eric Burnand, 2019]

Even though a large part of my life is now in French, I have not read many books in French. This is for several reasons, which I might reflect upon some other time. A friend gave me this book on my birthday last year and, as it was a graphic novel, I was more motivated to read it.

It tells the story of Emma, a young girl born in the beginning of the 20th century, in Switzerland, and of a few members of her family. According to the generation to which they belong, they take part in historic events or are affected by currents, movements and lifestyles of that specific point in time. For instance, Emma is a young woman when her fiancé gets involved in the general strike and is killed. Emma is interested in social movements, is active and becomes a teacher, but she has no right to vote, and when she has children, she gives her career up in order to stay at home with the children. Her granddaughter, who is born in the 70s, grows up with a right to vote, lives in a squat, and becomes involved in activist movements which advocated for the end of nuclear energy production in Switzerland.

What I appreciated in the book was how it told the story of several key moments and movements which still impact Swiss life as I’ve come to know it in my life here for the past five years, and how this was woven in the characters’ lives.

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