Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Astragal” as Want to Read:
Astragal
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Astragal

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,475 ratings  ·  150 reviews
As if the reader were riding shotgun, this intensely vivid novel captures a life on the lam. "L'astragale" is the French word for the ankle bone Albertine Sarrazin's heroine Anne breaks as she leaps from her jail cell to freedom. As she drags herself down the road, away from the prison walls, she is rescued by Julien, himself a small-time criminal, who keeps her hidden. Th ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 26th 2013 by New Directions (first published 1965)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Astragal, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Astragal

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,475 ratings  ·  150 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Astragal
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
There is something: in the search for freedom, in breaking one's feet in a hurry to get out (and what a hurry, 7 years at 19?), in looking for life, hurrying to get it all... Still, I sort of felt it was all a bit underdeveloped. We got vignettes where a real book could have stood. ...more
Steven Godin
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written by Sarrazin while serving time behind bars this semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of Anne, who after jumping to freedom from prison fractures her ankle and is found by the side of the road by Julian (who also happens to be on the run), they journey together, quickly form a bond, and romance soon follows. This was a cool and sexy read, also very charismatically French. It also captured a certain style similar to that of a Jean-Luc Godard movie. Tragically Albertine Sarrazin died ...more
Bjorn
Sep 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
19-year-old Anne - old enough to take her pants off, old enough to go to jail, legally still a child - jumps off the 10-metre wall of the jail where she's serving a 7-year sentence. Smashes her ankle, crawls to the highway, is picked up by a small-time crook with a motorcycle who helps her hide with various acquaintances as she recuperates as well as she can, having to depend on others. This is love. This is freedom. This is never being able to walk right again.

Astragal is many things. Largely a
...more
Barry Pierce
When I picked up Astragal (1965) by Albertine Sarrazin the cover told me that it is Patti Smith’s favourite novel. For future reference – never to ask Patti Smith for book recommendations. The author’s biography is far more interesting than the book she wrote. Sarrazin had a rough childhood which led to her to a life of crime and punishment. She wrote this novel whilst in jail and died aged 29. Astragal is a semi-autobiographical work which follows Anne, a 19 y/o girl who escapes from jail. Duri ...more
Thom
Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Albertine Sarrazin’s novel Astragal, originally published in 1965, is full of a free-wheeling, self-mythologizing attitude rare in modern fiction, but which evokes an era which thrived on heroes who took control of their own fates, seeking complete personal freedom even if it meant living beyond the law - an attitude which was a contributing factor in the conflicts of 1968. Albertine herself never made it to that date (she died in 1967 of complications following surgery, after a life spent in an ...more
Vanessa
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Astragal follows Anne, a 19 year old girl who escapes from prison by jumping a wall and ends up badly breaking her ankle as a result. The rest of the story follows her and Julian, the man who saves her from the roadside, as she travels around France trying to keep out of the clutches of the law, as well as the various people who put her up.

I honestly thought I would enjoy this more. It is very well-written, but almost too well-written for the simplicity of the story - at times I felt like Sarraz
...more
Stacia
Jan 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, europe
She has a very fresh, immediate voice in this book, a semi-autobiographical look at "Anne" who leaps from a third floor to escape prison, shatters her ankle, is randomly (& luckily) picked up by a minor crook (Julien) before her escape is discovered & wanders between hideouts, waiting, healing, & reverting back to her old life (yet at such a young age) of prostitution & thievery. There is freedom of spirit here, but also a lot of hiding, looking over her shoulder (not wanting to be caught), & wa ...more
Randall Wood
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A surprisingly lyrical and well told narrative, and a compelling individual as well. It's refreshing to hear about a life on the lam told in the first person. It may have been the effect of the translation from the French (which was excellent) but this story rings with a narrative quality - a rhythm - I haven't come across elsewhere. Sarrazin has the knack of making the obvious understated, and bringing out the detail with a dry and self-effacing humor. I think I'll remember this one for some ti ...more
Tosh
May 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-bought
Albertine Sarrazin had a remarkable life, and i love the look of her, and the Patti Smith introduction to this book is great, but..... I'm not that crazy about "Astragal." I think it's a so-so novel. Clearly written by a young person, it does capture the essence of me or us vs the world - but, in the end of the novel, I really don't care about the lead character or the others in the novel. By no means is it terrible. But for me, it goes from eyes to brain back to eyes - and I will forget it tomo ...more
tortoise dreams
Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it
An interesting novel by an author with an even more interesting bio. The reader becomes immersed in the interior monologue of the narrator as she breaks her ankle escaping from prison (on the first page). She slowly heals, the road to recovery consisting of hiding out with various people, leading to simmering tensions that are mostly covered over by politeness. This is a book for patient readers, willing to attend to the smallest details as there's little plot, little action, & one can only desc ...more
Lee Razer
Jun 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: france, crime-fiction
Autobiographical novel of teenaged French-Algerian girl, her escape from a youth reformatory prison, relationship with a petty criminal who picks her up, and carving out of a temporary life on the Parisian streets. Though she is tough and "a stick of dynamite" to quote Patti Smith's notable introduction, the novel is largely an account of things that happen to her; she demonstrates only a precarious ability here to direct the course of her life.

In the first half of the story this is due to the f
...more
Emily
Jul 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
It being the most unprecedented year yet, I have decided to take this opportunity to work my way through my untouched collection of books. Having no real idea which are worth the read vs not, this is the year I finally read them all. This untouched collection of books includes Astragal (1965) by Albertine Sarrazin. I had higher hopes for this book. The cover reads "As alive as a Godard movie, this lost classic of 60's French literature is back" and includes an introduction by Patti Smith. After ...more
Ariella
I came across this book after my sister saw it in a bookshop and showed me because the face on the cover looks like mine. The face is the author's and, truly, the lure of this book is the story of the women behind it--French-Algerian, abandoned, adopted, imprisoned. In the opening scene, Anne (Albertine Sarrazin's nickname) escapes from the window of a prison, fracturing the astragalus bone of her ankle when she jumps. Sarrazin's description of the pain and, indeed, all her descriptions, are int ...more
Carol Switzer
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this little gem very much. The author's youth comes through so well it feels refreshing and alive notwithstanding the very troubling setting and circumstances in which the protagonist lives. Funny to have read this on the tail of Suspended Sentences a dreamlike sequence describing similar characters in a very different way. ...more
Rachel
Jun 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Work people: Please stop recommending me books...especially when they are immediately available from the library. Andy, you too! (Caliban's War is in the queue!)

I never really liked the name Ann. Or Anne. (Sorry Mom!) But now I can see how it could be sexy.
...more
Nicole
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ooh-la-la
Perhaps if I had read this book at the age of 21, I would now be a little more like Patti Smith and a little less like me.
Mind the Book
Postgymnasial, Godard-artad "The guy gets out his Gauloises and gives me a light."-prosa, som tyvärr inte hade något att säga mig (nu). Ångrar att jag inte läste på franska, men ville så gärna ta del av Patti Smiths passionerade förord:

"In 1976, as I traveled the world, I carried 'Astragal' in a small metal suitcase [...] and the same black jacket I wore with careless defiance on the cover of 'Horses'. It was a Black Cat paperback edition..."
...more
Viktorija B.
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
First of all - one of the best introductions to a book I've ever read. such a warm, loving way to start it. and second - it's so easy to just live Anne's world. her words and her speech are so well translated, I could hear her words in my mind as I read and as I didn't. I kept her in my thoughts even when the book was put down. very atmospheric, almost claustrophobic in the beginning - then free and airy. I'm definitely going to talk about this book for years to come. ...more
Connor
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
A solid 3.5/5 for me. I think it’s very similar in tone, pacing, and theme as an early Godard film. There were sections I liked, particularly the ending, but I found the middle of the book dragged a bit. It had elements of noir but without the pulp that drives them. Much more of philosophical and purgatorial feeling than I anticipated.
Wally
Anne, a young French woman, escapes prison by jumping over the wall. Two seconds of freedom, then she smashes her ankle bone – the astragalus of the title. She drags herself down the road and is picked up by Julien, another small-time criminal, who shelters her at his friends’ roadhouse, a place where she can hide and heal in anonymity. The break is bad, though, and she must go to the hospital and endure several intense surgeries as well as the endless boredom of hospital rooms. She and Julien f ...more
b e a c h g o t h
Recommended by one of my favourite writers, Patti Smith, as one of the books that made her who she is today so obviously I was really looking forward to reading this.
Albertine writes so so well... Almost too well? She managed to complicate a very simple story by writing so intensely.. Which I have yet to decide if it was beautiful or exhausting. I LOVED how she finished each chapter with a phrase so poetic it almost makes you gasp. But plot-wise... I struggled to love it like Patti did.
Audrey Pf
A charming book. I felt such an intimate voice from the protagonist Anne. Beautiful prose. The madness of love, and obsession, passion and frustration. The quote on the front of the book is true - very much like a Godard film - in the best way. Patti's introduction, which I read after the novel, is endearing and spiriting, and I enjoyed it just as much as the story itself. ...more
El
May 06, 2013 marked it as to-read
I'm not at all ashamed to say that I want to read this book because of this article by Patti Smith.

Suck. It.
...more
Olja
Jul 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love the book more because of the irresistible charm of Albertine Sarrazin and because of her short, unhappy life, full of passion and hope for it not to end so abruptly...
Bill Keefe
Reading this in French was laborious task; paragraph upon paragraph of challenging vocabulary and street argot. I bring this up because I think the work it took read it to the end pretty much dashed any hope of writing a strong, positive review.

What I can say is that the book strikes me as being influential as much because of when it was written as how well it was written but frankly I would have no problem if some more capable reader disabused me of this notion. It was dark. The protagonist was
...more
Sidsel
"I'd been locked up too young to have seen much of anything, and I'd read a lot, dreamed and lost the thread. For me, reality was distorted like everything else;.."

This book was a whirlwind of emotions. A book about too much emotion in too little space. The book feels a bit claustrophobic a times because everything is happening all the time, Anne has so much going on all the time, and never gets to catch her breath.
But I liked it, I liked the 60's beat-y vibes, I liked her overwhelmingly teenag
...more
Malcolm Connell Wardlaw
I bought this book because I'd never heard of it and it looked interesting. It was interesting, in a way, being something of a period piece from early 1960's France. It's an autobiography of a late-teen girl who breaks her ankle jumping from a prison wall. She is helped by various petty criminal groups, whilst her broken ankle is not treated as she dare not go to a hospital. Eventually she is admitted under an alias as the younger suster of an acquaintance. She undergoes an operation to remove t ...more
Xena
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s not often I read books that I relate to. I love her bitterness, humor, and reality. Brilliant expressions, and her descriptions.. my goodness, the talent! No wonder it is Patti Smith’s favorite book. It tells a love story between two people who ran away from jail. It is a strange love story... one that teaches you about love but at the same time warns you.
She is in love with memories. Anne is always going back, remembering her ex-lovers. We meet a character who we understand very well but
...more
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Malina
  • Herzzeit: Ingeborg Bachmann - Paul Celan. Der Briefwechsel
  • Somebody Give This Heart a Pen
  • Dagarna, dagarna, dagarna
  • Full spredning - en legeroman
  • Year of the Monkey
  • The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House
  • Morgenstjernen
  • Under the Autumn Star
  • Things I Don't Want to Know
  • Dirty Havana Trilogy
  • The Translator's Bride
  • Los golpes
  • A Certain Smile
  • Gathering Evidence
  • A Burnt Child
  • Widow Basquiat: A Love Story
  • No Room at the Morgue
See similar books…
Albertine Sarrazin (17 September 1937 — 10 July 1967) was a French author. She was best known for her semi-autobiographical novel L'Astragale.

Born in Algiers, Algeria, she was quickly abandoned and put in the care of the social services, being then christened Albertine Damien in honour of the saint of the day she was found on. She was then adopted by a family that moved her to Aix-en-Provence. Wit
...more

Related Articles

Thirty-four years after the publication of her dystopian classic, The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood returns to continue the story of Offred. We talked...
367 likes · 59 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“I would like to stay like this, lazy, warm, in the silence where only our regular breathing can be heard, without ever having to make gestures, speak words which sell us out and betray us; this moment is real and alive, I stretch it into eternity...” 12 likes
“You can't wash away overnight several years of clockwork routine and constant disassembling of self.” 2 likes
More quotes…