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How to restore a madeleine?

Of course, this is not the excellent Commercy specialty that Marcel Proust dipped in his cup of tea!

"Mipe, her friends and her animals" is a work by Marcelle Vérité (1904-1994), director for 20 years of the "Plaisir des Contes" collection at Casterman and author of more than 200 children's books.

Mip, ses amis, ses bêtes. Edité Collection Majolaine © Fabrice Roy
Mip, ses amis, ses bêtes. Éditions Bourrelier et Cie © Fabrice Roy

Dated 1938, it was discreetly placed on a shelf in my uncle Jean's country house in Osny, where I spent many weeks of vacation as a child.

The memory of the adventures of Mipe, this mischievous young Provençal girl and her father Piroulet stirred in me that of those beautiful days of games with my cousins and my friends from rue Robinet, short pants, apple battles and skinned knees...

So when I found a copy of this book which I thought was lost after the sale of the house, on a well-known site selling just about everything, I didn't hesitate for a second. Given his more than precarious state, I bought him a pittance.

La dédicace de Marcelle Vérité. © Fabrice Roy
La dédicace de Marcelle Vérité. © Fabrice Roy

What was my surprise, leafing through it, to discover an original dedication by Marcelle Vérité to a certain Jacqueline Dreyfuss-Weill. She was one of the first librarians for children during the inter-war period and was keen to pass on a taste for literature to them. Deported, she disappeared in Auschwitz in 1943. The dedication probably dates from the year the book came out.

Last month, I decided to restore this precious book, identically. No leather cover, no frills, the book, just it, conforms to the original in all respects. It was no mean feat, considering the condition of the cover, flyleaves and ultra fragile paper, as can be seen below:

© Fabrice Roy

Thanks to the advice of my favorite bookbinder and the remarkable work of his supplier of scans, I was able to redo the cardboard covers, and restore them with a refurbished version of the original cover and endpapers. Which gave this:

My Proust madeleine has found its place in my library, dapper, with its moving dedication...

In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...


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