A sharp, fresh novel about a woman who lives the life she's meant to lead but finds it lacking - from the author of the much-loved The Library of Unrequited Love
The story of a woman's life, from childhood to death, somewhere in provincial France, from the 1950s to just shy of 2025.
She has doting parents, does well at school, finds a loving husband after one abortive attempt at passion, buys a big house with a moonlit terrace, makes decent money, has children, changes jobs, retires, grows old and dies. All in the comfort that the middle-classes have grown accustomed to.
But she's bored.
She takes up all sorts of outlets to try to make something happen in her life: adultery, charity work, esotericism, manic house-cleaning, motherhood and various hobbies - each one abandoned faster than the last. But no matter what she does, her life remains unfocussed and unfulfilled. Nothing truly satisfies her, because deep down - just like the town where she lives - the landscape is non-descript, flat, horizontal.
Sophie Divry dramatises the philosophical conflict between freedom and comfort that marks women's lives in a materialistic world. Our heroine is an endearing, contemporary Emma Bovary, and Divry's prose will remind readers of the best of Houellebecq, the cold, implacable historian who paints a precise portrait of an era and those who inhabit it and in doing so renders existence indelibly absurd.
Translated from the French by Alison Anderson
With its winks and nods to Flaubert's Madame Bovary, this is one of the most exciting finds of the season - Le Monde
The most paradoxical novel of the season: depressing, even desperately so, but at the same time, profoundly exalting, gentle and fluid - L Hebdo
One can't help thinking of Houellebecq when talking about Madame Bovary of the Suburbs - Elle