No doubt to protect me, and I thank him for that here, the author scarcely mentions me in his book. He has also evaded questions concerning me throughout the promotion of his book. This preserves my anonymity perfectly well.

Nevertheless, this very silence, added to a few harmless remarks, has led to all sorts of speculations and rumors. I have been subjected to a great deal of incomprehension. The naivety of some of the questions I have been asked still floors me.

Now that the media storm has died down a bit, I hope these few lines will help those still interested to find the answers to their questions.


The most tenacious, and unjust, of the rumors I face on a nearly daily basis is that I left my home and abandoned both of my handicapped sons to the care of their father, who was obliged to take care of them alone for years.

The separation of a couple is never painless, and the existence of Matthieu and Thomas did not facilitate my decision. But I have never shirked my responsibilities.
Two years prior to our separation, I was able to find, after a great deal of searching, an establishment well-adapted to Matthieu’s needs where he was boarded. Thomas, who was younger, stayed with me and his little sister. I continued to take care of him for several years, until he was old enough to join his brother.

Later, I remarried, with a man who also had children. I requested a
transfer at work and we all moved out of Paris to be closer to the establishment my sons were in, so we would be able to receive them more often at home where a room was ever awaiting them.

I never imagined that this would one day expose me to having to justify myself, or to having to prove that I did not abandon my handicapped sons.

Another rumor claims that I was able to read the proofs of this book, and that I had approved its contents. This is completely untrue. Like everyone else, I read the book only once it was in print. Besides which, this is perfectly normal. It is an author’s privilege to write whatever he wants. I would have not had the special competence required to amend a literary work.
For, let us remind ourselves, this book is a novel – an imaginative work which uses caricature with efficiency and talent to obtain its objective of a universal fable.
And if so many readers took this story literally, it is a great shame.
Although they should be absolved by the fact that confusion between the story and the real life of its author was indeed largely maintained throughout the promotion . . . . . .

(lines suppressed at the author's demand)

. . . . . . But this is not the most important point.


The questions I continue to be asked by those who do not know my boys
only impress upon me the totally negative and depressing image of them given in . . . . . .

(lines suppressed at the author's demand)

. . . . . . But that is not my opinion.
Can this divergence of opinion between us be explained by the differing perceptions fathers and mothers have of their children?

Fathers often have great ambitions for their offspring. They are often disappointed, and their egos receive a terrible blow. This is a fairly common occurrence. Alas, not everyone can graduate top of the class at some famous university, or direct the Berlin Philharmonic . . . . . .

(lines suppressed at the author's demand)

. . . . . . Mothers are generally less ambitious for their children. And more practical, as well. I was young, inexperienced and completely immersed in the daily problems. Between taking care of the children, doing research to understand the situation and searching for a place that could help us all, I didn’t have the leisure to feel sorry for myself.
No doubt anyone can understand that, in those days, when such help was not readily available and when contraception and abortion were still a crime, pessimism and derision were of no great help to me. Especially when I became pregnant for the third time. I had to survive as well. Life was no bowl of cherries, but I am not here to speak of myself.

What I do not want is that, because of this book (which uses their real names, a fact I will always regret), no memory remains of my boys but this extremely negative image . . . . . .

(lines suppressed at the author's demand)

. . . . . . The Matthieu and Thomas of the book have little resemblance to our real boys. Our boys were rather cute, they could talk and laugh and see and hear and were able to eat on their own. They were toilet-trained and laughed and smiled often. My boys have been with me throughout my life and I quickly discovered that each of them had a well-defined character and personality, with faults and qualities, just like we all do.
I took the time to tame them and to get to know them. Parents of children like mine will know what I mean. They have often made me laugh as well, both with them, and because of them. I can honestly say that they were happy in their way . . . . . .

(lines suppressed at the author's demand)

. . . . . . A few examples: Why was it written that we did not take family photos and that our photo albums were flat as pancakes?
Like every other parent in the world, I have naturally always taken pictures of my family and made many photo albums.
Why was it written that, for us, Christmas was a day like any other, without a tree or gifts?
Of course we celebrated Christmas joyously every year, like everyone, with a Christmas tree and gifts.
Why are our boys described (a sordid detail) as wearing worn-out coats like orphans?
Quite the contrary. Those familiar with handicapped circles know that mothers of children who are different, like myself, take especial care of their children's clothing.
And numerous other such examples could be taken from the book . . . . . .

(lines suppressed at the author's demand)


What I really desire is that people retain an image of my Thomas as he really was.
Not a millstone around my neck, but a facetious, charming, affectionate boy who gave joy to all around him.
He made everyone laugh: our neighbors, our friends, waiters in restaurants.
The local merchants who knew him would call to him from their shops to give him little presents of candy, some small toy or of a bag (his favorite). He could identify everyone he knew, even over the phone. He sang, he joked and enjoyed inventing comical nicknames for everyone. He had a particularly amusing way of gliding into the conversations of adults.

He did not constantly repeat the same exhausting phrase over and over in the car. Quite the contrary, he loved going for rides as it was the best occasion to chatter on about life in his establishment which he described in great detail, with funny imitations of the voices of the directress, the educators or the nurses.

Despite his low IQ, or perhaps because of it, other children climbed over each other to play with him. He left all those who knew him with bright, unforgettable memories of him.

No, my Thomas has not been the “apocalypse”. If you wish to see him, click on “My Photo Album” at the top of this page.

But the saddest part of the story is that for the last two years, my sweet little Thomas has been a victim of premature aging and accelerated deterioration. He hardly speaks anymore today, and scarcely leaves his armchair. His life is agonizing…In short, Thomas, who was so charming, so full of laughter, such a chatterbox and so happy throughout his life is beginning to resemble more each day (at age 45) the painful portrait painted
of him.


But since I will never write more than these few lines, I would also like to use this opportunity to thank all the educators who have helped my boys from the bottom of my heart. They have always done so with devotion and in constant good humor. The establishment Thomas attended is a caring place, without pathos, where they laugh with these handicapped children, and not at them. It is healthy laughter, with no ulterior motives, no cynicism, but also free of cant.

My deepest gratitude to these marvellous professionals, many of whom have become our friends over the years, and without whom my life and the life of my boys could have been hellish. They helped me through the worst and helped me lead a normal life enjoying the qualities of my children.

kindly translated by Gail Noyer

Mathieu and Thomas - english
Latest update 25/03/10