A book club focused on shorter works designed to be read in a sitting or two.
This month's book club pick is The Governesses by Anne Serre.
Every so often a different creature darts into view: a novel that is genuinely original -- and, often, very quietly so. Call it the anglerfish of literature, after those solitary, crazy-looking lurkers in the sea's deepest trenches. The strangeness of such stories isn't just at the level of construction; it emerges from the writer's very perception of the world and seeps into the syntax. Prim and racy, seriously weird and seriously excellent--The Governesses is not a treatise but an aria, and one delivered with perfect pitch.
A hypnotic tale of three governesses and the sensuous education they provide. Inès, Laura, and Eléonore are not exactly Jane Eyre types. Prone to Dionysian frenzies, should any passerby fall "into the trap of their vast, lunar privacy," they pounce upon, seduce, and devour him ("in a ladylike manner") to sate their ungovernable desires. This could be the setup for a neo-pagan farce, but as Serre delves into the three women's existence, the novel taps into deeper, quieter waters: the Keatsian twinning of joy and melancholy. Serre's wistful ode to pleasure is as enchanting as its three nymph-like protagonists.
A cruel and exhilarating book. Anne Serre's style is perfectly controlled. Colorful, by turns elegant and violent, it provokes that enchantment borne out of an unbridled imagination.--Paula Jacques
The author of fourteen novels and short story books, Anne Serre was born in 1960. Her first novel, Les Gouvernantes, was published in 1992, and praised by Michel Crépu in La Croix for its "remarkable economy of style."
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