At once devastating and uplifting, Fleur Pierets turns grief into art, in a LGBTQ+ reimagining of Joan Didion’s ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’
Fleur and Julian wanted to get married in all the countries where same sex marriage was legal. Julian died after their fourth wedding…
What started as a beautiful act of LGBTQ+ protest art quickly turned to tragedy when Belgian artist and activist Fleur Pierets suddenly and unexpectedly lost her wife Julian P. Boom to brain cancer. In 2017, the soulmates were embarking on a special project they had conceived – ‘Project 22’ – so named after the number of countries which had legalised same sex marriage at the time. With an ambitious plan to marry in every country on the list, the pair only managed to cross off New York, Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Paris, before Julian received her devastating diagnosis. Shortly after, she died.
In the years since, the number of countries to recognise same sex marriage has risen to 34 and similarly, Fleur’s love for her late wife has only increased. Amidst such loss, Pierets finds solace through her writing, art practice and LGBTQ+ activism, resulting in this stunning debut memoir which simply but poetically traces the limits of what grief can do to a person.
Julian is also an uplifting recounting of two women in love – from the exciting, early days of their relationship to its untimely ending. Fleur’s late wife Julian can be felt on every page, reminding us that no one ever really dies; it is memory which keeps us all alive.
With a nod to literary forebears such as Joan Didion, readers are hailing Julian a ‘LGBTQ+ version of The Year of Magical Thinking,’ while acclaimed American writer and essayist Siri Hustvedt has praised Pieret’s text for being ‘swift and lean and moving.’ The book is currently being adapted into a film by filmmaker Cato Kusters, produced by Lukas Dhont and Michiel Dhont, who recently made the Oscar-nominated film Close.
‘Julian is wonderful, which I know is strange to say about grief, but feeling and writing are two different things and the text is swift and lean and moving. I like the motion of the memories that has a fierce logic in the narrative.’
—Siri Hustvedt, Acclaimed American novelist and essaysist
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