The Literary questionnaire of

Clémence Poésy

Actress and friend of the House Clémence Poésy opens up about her relationship with reading and mentions the books that she learned from.

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Does your lifestyle allow you to read as much as you would like to?

Sadly no… For a few years, I have been reading more for my work and children than for myself. To fight this lack of time, I tend to read non-fictional books – collections I can leave and go back to easily – for example Zadie Smith’s brilliant Intimations or the beautiful Spring cannot be cancelled by David Hockney.

Is there a particular book that has affected how you lead your life?

Mary Oliver’s poetry… Always always always.

“The most “physical” reading I have ever had was the one of A little life by Hanya Yanagihara. I sometimes needed breaks to catch my breath, I needed to leave the book for a few days in order to calm down. (…) But it’s a wonderfully powerful feeling to go through a piece of art this way, and it’s one of my favorite books ever.”

What is the most liberating book you have read?

Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body by Sara Pascoe – a fascinating history about women’s bodies – deeply political and infinitely funny.

What is the most harrowing book you have ever read?

The most “physical” reading I have ever had was the one of A little life by Hanya Yanagihara. I sometimes needed breaks to catch my breath, I needed to leave the book for a few days in order to calm down after reading the terrible story of what happened to Jude, the hero. But it’s a wonderfully powerful feeling to go through a piece of art this way, and it’s one of my favorite books ever.

Which fictional heroine would you like to be?

I have an extroardinary memory of Gabrielle in Anne-Marie Garat’s Dans la main du Diable.

What is the best place to read?

A hammock… or a train.

Are you more romance novel or adventure novel?

Love without adventure will always interest me more than adventure without love…

Do you prefer long novels or short stories?

I love both. Immersing into decades of life like in What I loved by Siri Hustvedt, or being struck by the clear burst of an almost short-story like Small things like these by Claire Keegan for example are two relations to reading that I love equally.

Which book would you like to see adapted to film?

The one I am currently adapting and that should be my first feature film, Expectation by Anna Hope. A book that I’m crazy about.

The title of a book you always offer as a gift?

Depending on the age of the person I am giving it to, Florence Seyvos’ Le Garçon incassable, Toby Alon by Timothée de Fombelle or Need a House? Call Ms. Mouse by George Mendoza.

Zadie Smith, Intimations, Penguin Books, 2020.
David Hockney, Spring Cannot Be Cancelled: David Hockney In Normandy, © Thames Hudson, 2021.
Sara Pascoe, Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body, © Sara Pascoe, 2016. Published by Faber & Faber Ltd.
Hanya Yanagihara, A LITTLE LIFE, Published by Doubleday, 2015.
Anne-Marie Garat, Dans la main du diable, © Actes Sud, 2006.
Siri Hustvedt, What I Loved, © Hodder and Stoughton, 2003.
Claire Keegan, Small Things Like These, © Grove Press, 2021.
Le garçon incassable, Florence Seyvos, © Éditions de l’Olivier, 2013, nouvelle édition, 2021.
George Mendoza, Need a House? Call Ms. Mouse!, © The Estate of George Mendoza 2023. Published by New York Review Books.
George Mendoza, Need a House? Call Ms. Mouse! © Ashley Mendoza 2022. First published by Grosset and Dunlap Inc. and Librairie Ernest Flammarion in 1981. English language edition published by New York Review Books (2023) and Allen & Unwin (2022).

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