Michel-Michelle by Margo Gorman
Axel is an architect in Lille and the son of transgender Michel-Michelle, his birth mother Amelia and her partner, Naomi. Potential fatherhood brings back memories of his childhood as he recalls his relationship with his ‘three mothers’ and the mix of French and English in his identity. Challenged by his relationship with his partner, Sophie, he reflects on transition
from male to female, from child to adult, from France to England. Birth, death and suicide mingle in his notebooks and dreams. The novel opens when he has a few days alone in the holiday home of his deceased paternal grandmother to decide what to do with the neglected house. Michel-Michelle challenges fixed notions of gender identity. The novel is a homage to pioneers of diversity and a timely contribution to current discussions of gender fluidity.
Gail Aldwin (verified owner) –
After the death of Grand-mère, Axel visits her home in Lille. There he is flooded with memories of growing up with three mothers: his birth mother, her partner and Michel-Michelle. Some of the conversations and incidents are recorded as if verbatim but the ethereal quality of the writing suggests they are imagined or hauled from the cloudy depths of memory. I enjoyed the sparring between Axel’s parents at the time they realised a child had been conceived and this is cleverly echoed in the talk about parenthood between Axel and Sophie. Opportunities to explore transition are exploited: from child to adult, from male to female, from English to French. This gives a real sense of turbulence and acceptance around issues of identity. A brave and beautifully written novel.