“In the depths of her amnesia there exists the reassuring sensation of having existed a thousand times through the desires of others.”
Adèle appears to have the perfect life: She is a successful journalist in Paris who lives in a beautiful apartment with her surgeon husband and their young son. But underneath the surface, she is bored–and consumed by an insatiable need for sex.
Driven less by pleasure than compulsion, Adèle organizes her day around her extramarital affairs, arriving late to work and lying to her husband about where she’s been, until she becomes ensnared in a trap of her own making. Suspenseful, erotic, and electrically charged, Adèle is a captivating exploration of addiction, sexuality, and one woman’s quest to feel alive.
I know I should be doing a wrap-up by now since it’s already the end of August, but that will have to be delayed a bit so I won’t forget to talk about this amazing book. I love how Leila Slimani writes about women: honest and raw, intimate and nasty. With beauty and grace, but also with sharp edges.
Adele is a wife and a mother, and her life appears to be perfect in every way. But she has a secret: she is a slave to her desire and sexuality. She manages her extramarital affairs as efficiently as one sets up dental appointments.
“People who are never satisfied destroy everything around them.”
If themes of adultery can be distressing for you, then maybe stay away from this book. For me though, there were so many other things that I loved about this book–how it explored motherhood fears, female sexuality, female existential crisis, escapism, subversion.
“The love is there somewhere, she has no doubt about that. A rough, misshapen love, dented and bruised by everyday life. A love that has no time for itself.”
In one of Slimani’s interviews she clarified that she didn’t want to diagnose any illness or give the main character a “dark background” or trauma because that could be a distraction from what she hopes to portray: a woman trapped in her desires and her vanities; and to give readers an opportunity to know someone as “wicked” as Adele without looking away.
I always fall in love with this kind of read, because it gives me such an in-depth look at a person’s soul, and sometimes that’s the closest thing to seeing my own 🧡
About the Author
Leïla Slimani is a French writer and journalist of Moroccan ancestry. In 2016 she was awarded the Prix Goncourt for her novel Chanson douce.
Slimani was born in Rabat, Morocco and studied later political science and media studies in Paris. After that she temporarily considered a career as an actress and began to work as a journalist for the magazine Jeune Afrique. In 2014 she published her first novel Dans le jardin de l’ogre, which two years later was followed by the psychological thriller Chanson douce. The latter quickly turned into a bestseller with over 450,000 copies printed within a year even before the book was awarded the Prix Goncourt.
Adèle by Leïla Slimani, translation by Sam Taylor
Paperback, 216 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Penguin Books (first published August 28th 2014)
Original TitleDans le jardin de l’ogre
ISBN0143132180 (ISBN13: 9780143132189)
Genres: Fiction | French Literature | Literary Fiction | Contemporary | Adult Fiction