Citizens of nowhere: This Strange Eventful History, by Claire Messud, reviewed

Any personal history is hard to fictionalise, not least because the story needs to be both universal and unique. Claire Messud manages to find the right balance in her latest novel, reconstructing her family’s past in vivid episodes that open a multitude of windows on to the world. Continents and decades chase one another as the narrative traces the movements of the Cassar family. Hailing from Algeria, for much of the book they are citizens of nowhere. Their tribulations begin in 1940, when Lucienne and her children, François and Denise, flee Greece (where their father, Gaston, has been posted as the French naval attaché) to wait out the war in