Pushkin Press | 2 September 2021 | 304 pgs
Source: Library 
Translated from the French by Louise Rogers Lalaurie

The blurb read like a psychological thriller but it was actually more like a noir fiction centering on domestic abuse and the interactions between the perpetrator and the victim. 

Sandrine has a low self-esteem and often views herself as a fat and ugly woman. Constrained by the harsh society's standard and her self loathing views (much often contributed by her unhappy childhood), she lives her life miserably alone until she meets Langlois; a man whose wife has mysteriously gone missing and is left with their young son, Mathias. For a while, Sandrine is happy living with them as Langlois seems to be good and attentive to her. But, Sandrine does wonder about his missing wife at times and how she's the "Second Woman" given her plight. It's not long when Langlois becomes a selfish and manipulative man who starts controlling Sandrine, leading her to become submissive and always wary of his moods and behaviours. The story then starts to shift when Langlois's missing wife returns. 

I've to admit this story was hard to read in so many ways. First off, the extensive self-loathing thoughts of Sandrine and the abusive relationship between her and Langlois. Then, there's the omission of quotation marks (in which I'm not a fan of) and also the story is more "telling" than "showing" but I understand the latter as a form of writing style given the first person narrative. In spite of the darkness of the story, little Mathias was the saviour to me as his appearance and his child innocence lit some light during my reading journey. This is not a book for everyone yet it's an important subject which we cannot ignore or turn away from. 
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10 Responses
  1. Kay Says:

    Hmmm...this is not a book I'm familiar with. The things you mentioned that were hard to read are ones that also bother me. I've gotten to where the unlikeable protagonist (whether they are a 'bad' person or just one that you want to shake and say 'stop beating yourself up') is not very appealing for me. I do want the characters to grow through a story, but so many seem to either get worse or not change at all. Probably will take a pass on this one, but thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Melody Says:

    Kay - This author is new to me and the reasons why I picked this book is aside from the blurb, the publisher offers a variety of literature in translation so I'm interested to see other foreign authors' works as well. :)

  3. Greg Says:

    This would be a tough read, I imagine, but like you say sometimes they're important as well.

  4. Melody Says:

    Greg - Indeed, Greg.

  5. Lark Says:

    This does sound like a hard one to read. And I hate when authors don't use quotation marks, too!

  6. Melody Says:

    Lark - I don't understand why the omission of quotation marks; because IMO it just makes the passages harder/slower to comprehend. 🤷‍♀️

  7. Harvee Says:

    Would have to be in the right mood to read this domestic noir. Sounds like heavy subject matter.

  8. Melody Says:

    Harvee - Yes, I agree. The blurb didn't say much about the heavy subject matter so I was in for a surprise after a few chapters in.

  9. Iliana Says:

    The lack of quotation marks would probably be quite hard to get used to but it does sound like a story with depth. I'm definitely intrigued and would love to know what happened to the first wife!

  10. Melody Says:

    Iliana - The lack of quotation marks did bother me a bit but other than that everything was OK (but just didn't understand why Sandrine didn't leave Langlois then. Sigh.)

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