La Femme de Gilles by Madeleine Bourdouxhe

I wonder how many people would not have lived the part of one character or another in this brief discourse on betrayal? The husband who suddenly discovers an overwhelming passion for his sister-in-law. The sister-in-law who takes what she can from this whilst insolently uncaring about the devastation she wrecks. And the central character herself, the wife, who suddenly realises from the most trivial of information, that her husband and her sister are at it.

The rather idiotic reviews I’ve noticed here or there, in the name of being ‘modern feminist’ who think that the wife is being unbearably passive and submissive don’t get it. She is fighting. She sees it as a game that she can try to win and she thinks she understands how to do that, excruciatingly painful as her method is, and ultimately to no avail. And when her victory at the end is such a hollow one, she kills herself, out of strength, not weakness. She always knew what she wanted, and if she couldn’t have it, nothing would take its place.

Needless to say I’ve read this in English, but so good it is that I wondered if it might be a case of improvement in the translation.

I gather the world has little Bourdouxhe fashions now and then. I don’t particularly understand why she would go out.

I hadn’t realised that Daunt Books is a tasteful publisher as well as splendid bookshop. I will look out for more of their imprint.