Effroyables jardins is a beautiful little book, perhaps just a bit too beautifully tied together, but beautiful nonetheless. It is a tribute to Quint's father, but if you are thinking "oh, come on...." , it's not what you may expect. You really want to read this rich little novella. A boy in his early teens is mortified by his father, who embarrasses his son into the ground by performing as a clown wherever he has the opportunity. He finds the rest of his relatives little better, in the inimitable manner of the very young. Until one of these relatives, Gaston, takes him aside and tells him the story behind his father's eccentricity. Not too promising, heh? But Gaston and the boy's father were young and foolish men during the German occupation of France in World War II, and that generation had some stories to tell. The story is so beautifully constructed and so tightly bound together that I cannot bring myself to tell any piece of it in isolation. And the language! No classical French here; the book is narrated in the boy's slang when portraying his unhappiness with his family and in Gaston's energetic and colorful patois as he relates the central revelation of foolishness, fear, revenge, guilt, generosity and self-sacrifice. Curious about how the translator handled these distinct slangs, I sampled the translation by Barbara Bray (the edition I purchased has an English translation followed by the original French!) The less said about this translation, the better. Let it suffice to note that effroyable means "frightening, appalling, horrifying", whereas Bray offers "In Our Strange Gardens". Apparently, a movie was made based on this book. I have no idea how it manages the three distinct layers of time and perspective of this intricate little piece of clockwork.