Everything started with a photo. To see her free, hurtling fulsomely towards the future, made me think back to the life she shared with my father. Seeing the photo reminded me that those twenty years of devastation were not anything natural but were the result of external forces - society, masculinity, my father - and that things could have been otherwise.
One day, Édouard Louis finds a photograph of his mother from twenty years ago. A picture of a happy young woman, full of hopes and dreams. Growing up, Édouard only knew his mother's sadness, as she found herself trapped in the humdrum life of a housewife, and her struggles against the dominant world of men. What happened in those years since the photo was taken?
Then, at the age of forty-five, his mother frees herself from this oppression. She leaves her husband and her old life behind, to start a new one in Paris.
A Woman's Battles and Transformations is Édouard Louis's most tender book yet. It reckons with the cruel systems that govern our lives, with politics and power - and with the possibility of escape. It is an exquisite and loving portrait of a mother, and an honouring of her self-discovery and liberation as she chooses to live on her own terms.
Translated from the French by Tash Aw.