An intimate and heartbreaking investigation of a woman who was silenced.
“Dead from grief, broken-hearted”: so goes the family legend about the narrator’s grandmother. Anne Décimus, the great-grandmother, born in 1875, seemed not to have survived her husband’s death, but Stéphanie Dupays shatters this romantic version of her story with the discovery that Anne survived for forty years after burying her husband. Why was this woman’s existence erased to the point that not even her own people seem to know anything about her? “One is not alone in one’s skin,” Dupays writes, and it is this that drives her to investigate an ancestor to whom she feels strangely close. The truth comes out: Anne Décimus spent most of her life in an “asylum”. She wanted above all to write and kept herself in the world by composing poetry.
Un puma dans le cœur is the story of this intimate journey, where the history of psychiatry in the first half of the twentieth century and the invisible links that unite people in the same family are interwoven. Mixing fiction and personal narrative, Stéphanie Dupays gives a voice to an extraordinary woman who did not know how to cope with the world and who was silenced. She proves that literature can pierce secrets and soothe ghosts.