Violette’s Embrace is a multilayered novel that evokes the remarkable life of Violette Leduc, a brilliant stylist hailed as “France’s greatest unknown writer.” She was a contemporary of de Beauvoir, Sartre, Camus, Gide, Cocteau, and regarded as a “female Genet” by her admirers and critics alike.

In this reconstruction of the writer’s life, Violette Leduc emerges as a lonely, tormented woman who, in the face of unrequited passion, longed only for love in the form of literary esteem. Weaving the passionate, tragic story of Leduc – from her dark childhood to postwar Paris literary society, to her final years in Provence – with that of an American visual artist who retraces her life, Violette’s Embrace is a fusion of fact and fiction. These two women’s lives, a generation apart, are interwoven with grace, irony, and the brilliant contrast that history provides.


This is a story of dignified pursuits, of efforts that in the end are rewarding, of interests that, when pursued, make life richer than it was before.
– The Los Angeles Times

Violette’s Embrace is an adventure in time, in place, in personae. Michele Zackheim has dared to invent and actually become part of her story – the result is a thrilling mix of fact and fiction.
– Kate Millett

Zackheim gracefully tells Leduc’s sensational story through a personal prism that neither enhances nor diminishes its great literary and historical interest and appeal.
The Boston Globe

Michele Zackheim has written herself into Violette Leduc’s embrace by weaving – with the heightened visual perceptions of the artist she is – a fascinating veil that blurs our views of autobiography, fiction, non-fiction and the liminal lands in between. The book is a leisurely, lyrical account of two writers’ lives that bring us closer to our own.
– Lucy R. Lippard, author of The Pink Glass Swan: Selected Feminist Essays on Art

It took a patient investigator to travel back in time to the lost worlds of imperious Simone and her acolyte Violette, and a novelist’s imagination to re-create it. Michele Zackheim proves with Violette’s Embrace that she is eminently qualified to fill both roles.
– Herbert Lottman, author of Albert Camus: A Biography; Flaubert: A Biography and The Left Bank

Violette’s Embrace is the story of a seduction. Michele Zackheim has written a fascinating novel about a reader who falls in love with the words of a dead author, Violette Leduc, and becomes, as a result of this passion, a writer. 
— Elaine marks, Germaine Brée professor of French and Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison

French writer Violette Leduc, a contemporary of Simone de Beauvior and Jean Genet, was a fixture of Paris’ café scene, writing and rewriting her personal history in relative obscurity until the publication of her novel La Batarde in 1965. When the book was nominated for the Prix Goncourt for fiction, the jury dropped it from consideration after deciding it was not fiction at all but autobiography. Now an unnamed American biographer has arrived in Paris to interview Lily Jacob, an old friend of Violette’s. Lily’s recollections of Nazi-occupied France (she was active in the Resistance, Violette sold butter on the black market) segue seamlessly into accounts of the biographer’s travels, from walking alone in Auschwitz to lying in George Sand’s bed, as the biographer tries to understand her own life by understanding Violette’s. With all the weighty themes Zackheim has taken on–the slippery nature of autobiography, the Holocaust, mothers and daughters–it’s not surprising that the parallels she draws are sometimes forced. Overall, though, she succeeds in weaving them together. 
– Booklist