Marraine: A Portrait of my Godmother by Oriel Malet

Yvonne Arnaud

Yvonne Arnaud

“Marraine” is best known to the world as actress and musician Yvonne Arnaud.

But this is not a record of Yvonne Arnaud as a public figure. It is much better than that – a goddaughter’s memoir of the warm, loving woman who was a major influence during her formative years

“Every morning, Marraine sits at her desk, writing letters. She is a little, fierce dumpy figure in a plum-coloured dressing-gown. She covers page after page with bold green handwriting, underlining heavily, flourishing exclamation marks, dots and dashes, but hardly ever crossing out. For she knows what she wants to say, and says it.”

Oriel Malet

Oriel Malet

Oriel Malet writes of her godmother with wonderful warmth and empathy. Her devotion and closeness to her subject is clear, and she paints a rounded and convincing picture of a very real woman.

“”I don’t like children,” Marraine said, more than once. She calls me Puss, as if hoping to produce an affinity with the animals which she loves, and does understand. But it is her instinct for giving the right kind of care to anything which she cherishes, plant or animal, that makes her able to help me.”

This is a very personal and very charming book and it was a joy to read.

“There are relationships in life which, by their very nature, can only come once; People who stretch down into one’s early life like taproots and to whom we owe all that we later possess. Marraine was like that.”

2 responses

  1. Pingback: Saturday Review of Books: January 24, 2009 at Semicolon

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