Memories of Low Tide, by Chantal Thomas


‘The swimmer of the Grand Canal revelled in the water, not a care in the world, euphoric with delight. Whatever might exist around, below, above her, she gave no thought to it.

‘Translated with nuance and detail…Wonderful… a kind of bottled perfection’ — Financial Times

‘A story of inheritance, of the fluidity of a mother-daughter relationship dissolved in a calm sea, a kind of reverse amniotic fluid, in which to dive and luxuriate deliciously’ — Marie Claire

‘The book of my summer. On lazy days I’ve floated along slowly on Natasha Lehrer’s clear and sparkling translation; at other times, the narrative pulled me as swiftly into profound depths as the rip tide does a swimmer’ — Nancy Campbell, author of The Library of Ice

‘In spare, elegant prose Thomas explores the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive… Natasha Lehrer’s translation is, appropriately, beautifully fluid.’ — Times Literary Supplement

‘In serene, voluptuous prose (beautifully translated by Natasha Lehrer) [Thomas] conjures up her childhood in Arcachon after the Second World War, allowing us to share in that life, paced to the rhythm of the tides’ — Lauren Elkin

‘An indelible memoir that is an original, intricate and melodic work of literature’ — Bookblast

Written in impossibly beautiful prose, Thomas explores the connection she feels to her childhood home on the Atlantic coast of France and the obsession with the sea she inherited from her mother. Complicated and often inscrutable, Thomas’ mother was fettered by domestic life, but was once the kind of girl who dived into the moat at the Palace of Versailles.

Memories of Low Tide is Chantal Thomas’ search for that effervescent girl, the quest to understand her, and an exploration of the ways she truly is her mother’s daughter.

Shortlisted for the 2020 Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize