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LONGLISTED FOR THE PRIX GONCOURT AND SHORTLISTED FOR THE PRIX FEMINA
‘I was in the melancholy state of mind that often comes over me when I go to see my sister, and I think I started by getting a little lost . . .’
It’s a Sunday in early September and a woman leaves muggy Paris to visit her sister in the western suburbs of the city. Ville-d’Avray is less than an hour away, but it seems like another world with its secluded streets and set-back houses.
The sisters’ relationship is ambiguous. Jane’s visits to Ville-d’Avray leave her discomfited; for all Claire Marie’s seeming provincial passivity, she knows exactly how to get under Jane’s skin.
As they settle into the torpor of the afternoon, Claire Marie describes a curious encounter from her past. Sundays are when she thinks about life – whether she expected something more from it, and whether she is still waiting for it to begin.
Sharply observed and wryly funny, A Sunday in Ville-d’Avray is a haunting novel about half-shared truths and desires that can never fully be expressed.
‘A novel with a singular evocative power.’ Le Monde
A woman visits her dissatisfied sister in the eponymous Paris neighborhood, leading to a series of shared revelations in Barb ris's provocative if lukewarm English-language debut. Both the unnamed narrator and her sister, Claire Marie, are married and claim to be happy, yet something troubles each of them. Together, they recall their dreamy and strange youth "No one's childhood is really normal, I suppose," the narrator reflects spent together pouring over their love of the mysterious Rochester in Jane Eyre and avoiding the criticisms of their mother. Later, they share secrets with one another, leading Claire Marie to divulge a strange yet intense encounter with Marc Hermann, a Hungarian businessman whose behavior, origins, and intentions become more muddled the longer she knows him and as they begin an affair. An examination of chance and fate plays out through Claire Marie's ominous affair, and as her sister listens she can't help but see herself and her own staid life through the lens of Claire Marie's attempt to break free. A study of desire and contentment, time and expectation, this slim novel raises alluring questions about paths not taken, but the stories the sisters tell one another don't add up to much. Though it doesn't have much staying power, fans of Patrick Modiano will appreciate this.