May 20, 2010

A simple French story

J. M. G. Le Clézio:
Ritournelle de la Faim

After reading Terra Amata exactly a year ago, this book by J. M. G. Le Clezio (Nobel-prize winner 2008) sounds quite simple now. (On the other side I'm a bit suspicious, did I ignore something important accidentaly?)

This story, Ritournelle de la Faim [Rituals of the Hunger] is about Ethel Brun a young girl (later a young woman) in the first part of the XX. century in Paris. The first part of the book is like the classical realist novels about the bourgeoisie, somehow the same atmosphere like in the books by Emile Zola, Roger Martin du Gard, Anatole France or Andre Gide, something really French, something really classical Parisian.

Ethel has an eccentric but rich uncle, they together have plan about the "Mauve House", an exotic house for Ethel. But the uncle becomes ill, and later dies, the plan is never carried out, because Ethel's father wants to build a tenement building on the ground inherited by Ethel from the uncle.

That brings the family Brunn into the bankruptcy. Just right at the beginning of the ww2. Two tragedy at the same time. They have to leave Paris, they go to Nice, where the parents have the honeymoon many years ago. But everything has changes now. Poverty, hunger, war...

After the war Ethel meets her lover Laurent again and after their marriage (and the dead of Ethel's father) they decide to leave France for Canada, and starting a new life. As I know, this is the story (when even not exactly this one) of Le Clezio's mother.

It looks like a romantic novel because of the end of the story, but it isn't.

Also important motives in the book: the Mauritian origin the family. The unhappy marriage of the parents. Xenia, the beautiful Russian emigrant, and Ethel's teenage enthusiasm for her. The guests in the salon of the family. The growing anti-Semitism among the French people. And of course the Hunger.

Despite the serious theme it was an amusing book for me. Maybe because it was soo really, really French one.

2 megjegyzés:

Marie said...

I still haven't read Le Clezio. how lame am I? this one sounds great.

Brenda said...

This sounds very interesting!

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