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Honeymoon by Patrick Modiano
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Honeymoon (1990)

by Patrick Modiano

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189795,004 (3.79)8

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English (4)  Italian (3)  All languages (7)
Showing 4 of 4
This is good literature. I know because it has won a prize, it is has a ghost of a storyline, and it is painfully boring. Sometimes I like or love good literature, and sometimes I don't understand. I don't understand why it's good, and even when it's explained to me, I don't understand why it is consumed.
  rosechimera | Mar 16, 2018 |
A documentary filmmaker in Paris, Jean, abandons his unfaithful wife and disappears. Except he remains in Paris and pursues a thread of memory involving a couple that once took him in years earlier. He sneaks into his home during a celebration, witnesses his wife in a tryst with a second colleague of his, then sneaks back out. He flirts with returning home, but rents an apartment where the couple of his memory once lived. He's still living in Paris apart from his former life and the end of the story. ( )
  Hagelstein | Feb 12, 2018 |
I'm not sure if I ever truly understood what my mother meant when she said that she gave up on The Darkroom of Damocles because the protagonist was just such an unsympathetic lunatic. But after soldiering on through the first third of this book, I think I just might know what she means. I decided to push through only because of the novel's brevity, and luckily the last two thirds were much more palatable.

The book is about this guy, Jean, who while visiting Milan remembers that 18 years earlier he was in Milan when he learned that a French woman committed suicide there. After sharing that he knew her longer ago still, the weave of the story begins. Ingrid's life backward is intertwined with Jean's life forward. That structure is not uninteresting, but on the downside also the only real reason to read this.

Et en français:

Je ne sais pas si j'ai compris vraiment ce que ma mère voulait dire quand elle a dit qu'elle a renoncé De donkere kamer van Damokles parce que le protagoniste était un fou antipathique. Mais après persévérer à travers le premier tiers de ce livre, je pense que je pourrais juste savoir ce qu'elle signifie. Je décidai de faire passer seulement à cause de la brièveté du roman, et heureusement, les deux derniers tiers étaient beaucoup plus acceptables.

Le sujet du livre est ce gars, Jean, qui lors de la visite de Milan se souvient que 18 ans plus tôt, il était à Milan quand il a appris qu'une femme française se suicida. Après avoir exprimé qu'il la connaissait il y a plus encore, l'entrelacement de l'histoire commence. La vie d'Ingrid en arrière est étroitement liée à la vie de Jean avant. Cette structure n’est pas sans intérêt, mais à la baisse aussi la seule vraie raison de lire ceci. ( )
  Frenzie | Aug 24, 2016 |
The winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature is French author, Patrick Modiano, but to us in the west, an obscure writer who has written 17 books and won every major literary prize in France. When the Nobel was announced, I rushed to get a copy of one of his novels, and found only one available in English: Honeymoon. Since then, several more have surfaced, and I plan on reading those as soon as possible.

Honeymoon is a peculiar novel but intriguing, nonetheless. It tells the story of Jean B., a documentary film maker who pretends to fly to Rio, but he actually returns to his apartment in suburban Paris. His intent is to imagine the lives of two people he had met 20 years before while evading the French police and Nazis in Vichy France. Jean is alone, and he begins to travel with Ingrid, a Danish woman and Rigaud, a French national. His intentions quickly evolve into an obsession.

Modiano’s prose is plain and simple, but his story-telling ability more than compensates for any perceived or misperceived simplicity in his writing. The story became so real, I was sometimes startled by tidbits in the story which reminded me I was not in the France of World War II.

Jean B. seeks solitude to unravel the puzzle of the lives of Ingrid and Rigaud. Modiano writes, “I was lying on the mattress, staring at the sky and the top of the pines. I could hear shouts coming from the swimming pool, down below, and the sound of people diving. Above me, between the branches, the play of sun and shade. I let myself sink into a delightful torpor. Remembering it now, it seems to me that that was one of the rare moments in my life when I experienced a sense of well-being that I could even call Happiness. In that semi-somnolent state, occasionally interrupted by a shaft of sunlight piercing the shade of the pines and dazzling me, I considered it perfectly natural that they had taken me home with them, as if we had known each other for a long time. In any case, I had no choice. I’d just have to wait and see how things go” (19).

The young Jean B. apparently had a crush on Ingrid, and now, he tries to reassemble her life from fragments of his memory and off-hand remarks she made during their travels. While in Paris, he makes two discoveries. The first is a suicide in a Milan hotel he registered in, and the second is a list of seven people living in and around Paris with the surname, Rigaud. He must decide what to do with this information, while concealing his location from family, friends, and co-workers – some of whom awaited his arrival in Rio de Janeiro.

While Patrick Modiano uses sparse language – approaching, but not quite reaching the sparseness of Hemingway – this story is thoroughly enjoyable, with just a dash of suspense. Honeymoon is one of his more popular novels, but I await a delivery from Amazon to discover more treasures by this writer who has thankfully come to my attention. 5 stars.

--Chiron, 11/28/14 ( )
  rmckeown | Dec 9, 2014 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Les jours d'été reviendront encore mais la chaleur ne sera plus jamais aussi lourde ni les rues aussi vides qu'à Milan, ce mardi-là. C'était le lendemain du 15 août. J'avais déposé ma valise à la consigne et quand j'étais sorti de la gare j'avais hésité un instant : on ne pouvait pas marcher dans la ville sous ce soleil de plomb. [...]
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0879239476, Hardcover)

Modiano, winner of the Prix Goncourt, constructs "a haunting tale of quiet intensity" (Review of Contemporary Fiction). It parallels the story of Jean B., a filmmaker who abandons his wife and career to hole up in a Paris hotel, with that of Ingrid and Rigaud, a refugee couple he'd met twenty years before, and whose mystery continues to haunt him.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:34 -0400)

Jean B., the narrator of Honeymoon, is submerged in the world where night and day, past and present, have no demarcations. Having spent his entire adult life making documentary movies about lost explorers, Jean suddenly decides to abandon his wife and career, and takes what seems to be a journey to nowhere. He spends his solitary days recounting or imagining the lives of Ingrid and Rigaud, a refugee couple he met more than twenty years ago. Little by little, their story takes on more reality than Jean's existence, as his excavation of the past slowly becomes an all-encompassing obsession. In Honeymoon, Patrick Modiano constructs an existential tale of suspense and longing, and of the past's hold over a shifting, ambiguous present. Barbara Wright's translation remains true to Modiano's simple, melodious prose of a born storyteller.

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