Aimez-vous Brahms…

Before I get started on my second read for this year’s Paris in July, I would like to give a quick mention to the lovely Manchester Book Club and our utterly satisfying fourth meet on the 3rd July at Home Sweet Home in the centre of Mancland.  A nicer, cosier corner was nabbed and we welcomed both old and bright new faces (including a couple more boys which was particularly nice for the mix!) and had a good old dissection of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita (more on this to come soon) The lovely Louise gave us no less than seven interesting titles to choose from to read in July, with us finally settling on The Sisters Brothers by Patrick Dewitt. I’ve seen this out and about and simply would never have gotten around to picking it up had it not been for Book Club, yet this is precisely the beauty of meeting a group of very varied, very interesting bookish people every month. I have however, a Parisian plan to fulfill before I get around to that…

After a thoroughly Russian June, I have really had to force myself to let my brain hang out a bit and get into the Frenchie Frenchiness I crave. After reading Françoise Sagan’s novella Bonjour Tristesse earlier this year and really appreciating it, I was absolutely ready for another swift dose of precocious, aloof and sexy French  characters, wrapped up in their (in the grand scheme of things) unimportant love affairs and struggling to release themselves from their ground hog lifestyle, however stylish it may be.

In Aimez-vous Brahms we are treated to the classic love triangle that Sagan favours; Paule, a 39 year old interior designer is a woman at the end of her tether. Emotionally neglected by her long-standing, yet apparently rather dashing lover Roger she is unexpectadly swept off her feet by  the young, headstrong son of a wealthy client. Simon is strikingly beautiful and lovestruck, standing in sharp contrast to the philandering bully stringing her along.

This is may sound such a silly thing to say but this small book is so French. The shallow relationships between the three characters, the grandiose sentiments ending in disillusion and abandonment are so existential it almost made me laugh out loud. But that isn’t to say Sagan is laughable.

Although I would never go as far as to say that her work is hugely deep and meaningful, there is a certain philosophy here that I find attractive. Although irritatingly wrapped up in themselves and their own problems I found Paule in particular to be pretty realistic. Beautifully flawed, weak and confused you could say she was the Everywoman, the French Everywoman that is, and her lapse back into mundanity left me feeling, well, rather reflective really…

So...what do you think !?

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