Families and their dynamics provide fertile ground for fiction. Most of us have a family in some form, and many of us are confused about the differences between them, especially when we are introduced to them by our partners. The dark and funny mature of Marie Aubert explore the most feverish family dynamics, brotherly ties and rivalries that should have taken place on a happy and solemn weekend.
Olea doesn’t say anything, I see her thinking of something else, but I’m proud, I understand the children, I know what to do Ida goes to the family summer cottage where her mother and her partner will be with the rest of the family the next day for a sixty-fifth birthday party to enjoy the weekend. She has something to say, but her sister beats her. Martha announces that she is pregnant, which Ida knows she must be happy to have comforted Martha through several miscarriages.
Single and childless, Ida has just celebrated her fortieth birthday and is going to a fertility clinic hoping to freeze her eggs, News she wanted to share this weekend. Instead, a flame of resentment ignites, and Ida turns to the charming six-year-old Olea, the daughter of Kristoffer’s first marriage, who clearly has a cold relationship with Martha. There are a lot of things Ida can cook over: Martha’s incessant caresses on the maternal stomach, the changes she and Kristoffer made in the cabin without consulting Ida, the memories of her own affairs with men who refused to leave their family for her, and her mother’s constant worried attention to Martha. Of course, drinking alone Stokes the flames, and Ida throws herself into Chaos.
And if there was something else, something different from everything I imagined. Something More Ordinary. Aubert’s harsh short story, told a little more cheerfully by Ida’s voice, is both very funny and very dark. Ida finds ways to get under her sister’s skin like only a brother could: she manipulates Olea’s affections, whose nose is clearly derailed with her mother-in-law’s News; she sabotages Martha’s attempts to impress her mother, and then, tipsy, overcomes the limits of her sister’s loyalty. As Ida tells her own story and drops the details of her joint childhood, where Martha’s concern for her mother’s Health caught her mother’s attention, we begin to understand the basics of this particular form of sibling rivalry, and now it looks like Martha will have the happy family that Ida escapes. Aubert delivers his story with lots of dark humor, giving it a sense of foreboding that is headed for the inevitable showdown, leaving his readers with an ending that I found hopeful.