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Short novel set in PARIS / FRANCE

29th September 2023

As the Eagle Flies by Nolwenn Le Blevennec, short novel set in Paris / France.

TR: Madeleine Rogers

Short novel set in PARIS / FRANCE

The female protagonist of this short novel consciously wants to embark on an affair with Joseph. His early gambit to her is to say: “What I’d really like to do is put you under a bell-jar and keep you on my desk” which doesn’t seem to deter her. Once the affair is well established, he wants to be sure that she would be “.. strong enough to hold him for the rest of his life…“. There is no sense of what he brings to the relationship apart from a suffocating desire. He then goes on to reveal himself as undermining and derisory; he is at one point described as acting like a geisha – I have no idea what that was intended to mean (but it didn’t seem to be positive).

The protagonist has reeled in a narcissist, who plays games, goes on to blow hot and cold, and then starts to ghost and gaslight, leaving her resorting to psychological support. The affair itself is short, but subsequent encounters and reminiscences serve to shake her to the core.

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At home her husband Igor and the kids are getting on with their lives, and the ripple of her affair permeates her home life, destabilising what she has there.

People who have read the novel – phrases used in its marketing – state that it “..made them laugh (a lot)..”, to some it was “..hilarious..”. The protagonist can be self deprecating, for sure, and there are wry observations that could make the reader smile, but the nature of the relationship, as depicted, is such that it is in no way amusing. The story is raw and unflinching in its honesty of one woman’s dalliance beyond marriage and it feels disingenuous to apportion a layer of humour to this rather excruciating, abusive, intimate adult relationship that, actually, is beautifully and sharply told.

The writing flows and the translation is great, it is very readable. Ultimately for me I wasn’t invested in the characters and couldn’t understand the protagonist’s fundamental drive to hook up with Joseph. The protagonist’s self destructive nature reminded me of Adèle by Leïla Slimani, also set in France.

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