With "Les Jumelles de la rue Nicolas", Evelyne Trouillot has fun sowing doubt

Half-sisters, Lorette and Claudette were born on the same day, two hours apart, from the same father but different mothers

With "Les Jumelles de la rue Nicolas", Evelyne Trouillot has fun sowing doubt

Half-sisters, Lorette and Claudette were born on the same day, two hours apart, from the same father but different mothers. The first is the legitimate child, born of the "respectable and legalized" union of his parents, Etienne and Rose-Marie. The second is "the child from outside", the fruit of a clandestine relationship which, moreover, does not remain hidden for long. Because when Claudette's mother dies, Etienne forces his wife to take his orphan daughter under his roof.

It only takes one look for the stepsisters to bond with intensity: “We both had the same start. Frozen, upset, timidly impatient, we looked at each other with avidity and suspicion. On the other hand, they cannot count on the benevolence, even less the affection, of their mother and stepmother, Rose-Marie, who considers the very existence of her daughter-in-law as an attack on her respectability. So she raises the little girls by insisting on their difference, constantly favoring one while she persists in rejecting the other with constant rage.

The passage of time increases her violence when she realizes that her indolent and cheeky daughter is disappointing her expectations, while her hated stepdaughter proves to be hardworking and talented. The years also confirm an extraordinary physical resemblance between the half-sisters, who pass in the eyes of all for twins. Carriers of mystery and strangeness for their family, Claudette and Lorette, Les Jumelles de la rue Nicolas, disturb as much as they fascinate.

Disturbing twinness

Multiple tensions run through this eighth novel by Haitian writer, poet and playwright Evelyne Trouillot. Starting with that aroused by the disturbing twinness of the heroines - or "marasa" -, to which popular wisdom attributes many powers.

“We took with us the magic word that was to openly define us ever since: “marasa” […] Marasa united, twins both unlike and identical. Painful sharing and unavoidable otherness. »

The book is structured and progresses from an alternating speech of the two young women. Real or fake twins? Beneficial or harmful? Independent or fusional? Full of wisdom, like Claudette, or unbalanced like Lorette? The half-sisters of rue Nicolas like to sow doubt, alternately using their resemblance to take advantage of it or resorting to it to seal their unity in the face of the world. “More and more, I want to find myself double. Complete. Without losing a drop of this part of madness that attaches me to you. I want everything, our excesses, my fears, our pleasures, your ecstasy, our needs. Over the years, I've learned that without you, I wouldn't be me," Claudette told her sister.

The character of the mother also crystallizes a second point of tension in the novel. Indeed, without her husband gone to live in America, Rose-Marie braces herself as much as she can to her apparent bourgeois perfection, but she nevertheless privately becomes an abusive woman capable of slipping into mystical dementia. and take his daughter there.

"Rose-Marie, who had so often denigrated her rural origin and instilled in you this fear and disdain of the rural world, placed us under the protection of the family gods. »

False pretenses

Finally, behind the trio of protagonists, the novelist reveals this other form of tension aroused by the socio-political context of Haiti. Poverty, unemployment, economic and social cleavages explode there and form here like an electric backdrop that a large population seeks to flee.

The novelist draws an additional thread from this by making her half-sisters candidates for emigration. Pushed to join their father by Rose-Marie, who wants to save them as much as get rid of them, the twins therefore multiply the pretenses - fake statements, sham marriage, duplication - in the hope of deceiving the administration. borders and thus to escape the insularity that encloses them.

Incidentally, Evelyne Trouillot offers us a key to reading her entire book by reminding us that duality is certainly always, wherever we go, at the heart of our lives, our identities, our behaviors and even heart of the world.