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***On the Livres Hebdo bestseller list***
Begins like a detective novel, continues as an existential quest, and ends like a fable. . . .
Her elegant and concise writing takes the reader along on an ever-surprising literary and cinematic road-trip whose conclusion is as unpredictable as life itself.
Are we the same person at every age? Can we ever go back to being the person we thought we once were?
It is Emilie Beaulieu’s twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. To celebrate, she is preparing an elegant and sensual evening to share with her husband: The roast is in the oven, the living room is in candlelight, the music is at the ready—and she is wearing new lingerie. She brings a special bottle of wine from the cellar, and then, as she unwinds the newspaper wrapped around it, reads a classified ad: “Emilie. Aix 76. Come as soon as you can. Dario.”
Without thinking, Emilie turns off the oven, blows out the candles, and leaves her husband, her grown daughters, and her job to return to her adolescent life and love.
As she drives to Italy, away from more than 30 years of her life, she thinks back on the arc of her life, her childhood, her years as a young girl, her marriage, and motherhood. Her upbringing was strict and complicated by having a sister with Down syndrome. The dashing and aloof Dario was her first love—and she was the first girl he had really loved. Her marriage, she thought, was comfortable—and boring. Her daughters had left home and were living their own lives, beyond her reach. But Dario is calling her to him. How can she resist? How can she not return to her earlier self?
When she reaches Genoa, she finds that it was not Dario who was calling her but his wife, Giulietta. Dario has unexplained amnesia, and the best of care cannot determine what caused this state or how to help him regain his memory. Giuletta’s ad was a desperate act. She had read of Emilie in Dario’s diary and hoped that seeing her again would jolt him back to awareness of himself. In the end it is not so much Dario who awakens but Emilie.
Véronique Olmi : Born in 1962 in the south of France, Veronique Olmi is a playwright and a novelist. She studied drama and worked as an assistant director from 1990 to 1993, but is best known for her novels. In 2001, she was awarded the Alain Fournier literary prize for Bord de Mer (Beside the Sea, Peirene Press, 2010; Actes sud, 2003). Olmi also writes for Madame Figaro and is the artistic director of the “Paris des Femmes” theater festival, launched in January 2012.