The narrator, Dominique, is a student at the Sorbonne in Paris; her boyfriend and lover is Bertrand, another student; she is getting bored by the rather possessive Bertrand. She meets Bertrand's uncle Luc and his wife Francoise; she very much likes them both but she falls in love with Bertrand and spends two weeks of the summer holiday with him at a hotel in France. If anyone learns their secret Francoise and Bertrand will be hurt. And can Dominique give Luc up after two weeks?
The joy of this book is the perfect way she describes a relationship with another person: the irritation and the awkwardness, the lust and the disgust, the hopes and the anxieties. It also says what it is to be young: to be hopeful, to be fearful, to be bored, to be easily amused, to treat time as if it was unlimited, to be aware of one's own mortality and one's own powerlessness, to turn frustration into cynicism.
There are so many flashes of light' These are but a few:
- "She talked, I listened; she gave advice and I ceased to listen." (p 15)
- "I realized there were many people who ... treated their bodies like precious playthings to use for their amusement." (p 21)
- "My life was slipping away, and I did nothing except sneer."
- "Listen to the trumpet. It's not only free from worry but it is necessary to the band." (p 49)
- "I confined myself to kissing his eyes, his mouth, all the features in that new face which the lips discover after the eyes have feasted on it." (p 64)
- "We would drift slowly ... towards death, always talking of the temporary nature of our stay." (p 67)
- "The pale dawn over an inhuman sea, the motionless boats, the mad, grasceful crowd of gulls roosting on the hotel roof." (p 67)
- "I entwined my hair with his." (p 70)
- "Happiness is like a flat plain without landmarks." (p 72)
- "I would be falling from a great height, and during my descent I would be alone, terribly alone." (p 72)
- "What does a human being think about on an empty beach, facing an empty sea?" (p 74)
- "I had believed it was my story." (p 110)
- "I was a woman, and I had loved a man. It was a simple story; there was nothing to make a fuss about." (p 112; last lines)
August 2017; 112 pages