Monday, April 26, 2021

Book Review: A Sunday in Ville d'Avray

By Cindy Roesel

I love reading novels about sisters and their relationships. In French author, Dominque Barbéris’s novel, A SUNDAY IN VILLE-d’AVRAY (Other Press), which has recently been translated from French to English, we meet Jane and her sister Claire Marie. The novel is different from anything I’ve read before. Jane lives with her partner Luc in central Paris and Claire Marie lives a suburban life with husband, Christian and daughter, Melanie in Ville d’Avray.

Jane and Claire Marie grew up in Brussels and Sunday nights were always sad. The author describes those evenings as “turmoil under calm” filled with dreams and fears. Their mother called Sunday nights “unbearable” and forced the girls to learn poems. It’s easy to read Barbéris’s novel as a simple story about sisters, but it is so much more. It reveals the depth of human souls.

Jane doesn’t frequent Ville-d’Avray often because her partner Luc finds her sister boring. “Your sister has never had her feet on the ground. It’s a family trait.” His words are also a commentary on how he feels about Jane. You can feel both, Jane and Claire Marie yearning to be close, like they were as children, despite the obstacles.

Jane goes out one Sunday to visit Claire Marie without Luc. Over several glasses of wine, Claire Marie shares a well-kept secret with her sister. She had a relationship with a man and kept it secret for fifteen years. While reading, I felt a wall come down between the sisters and a closeness grow. I knew they were going to grow close again.

Barbéris’s prose is eloquent and the narrative complex revealing the women’s midlife dreams and regrets. The setting for the novel has a feeling of melancholy that keeps pushing you forward. I felt a dark hole filling up as I read, eventually leading to a satisfying ending.

Thanks to Other Press for the book in exchange for an honest review.

No comments: