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Simple Passion

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  613 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
"A work of lyrical precision and diamond-hard clarity....A remembrance of desire past."
Memoirist Annie Ernaux has written eloquently about loss. Now she writes of another kind of loss, the loss of herself in a love and then the loss of the love itself. In spare, beautiful language, she writes of the end of an affair, the coming to terms with its close and wit
Paperback, 80 pages
Published August 9th 1994 by Ballantine Books (first published 1991)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Sep 08, 2009 Jana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: south, fiction
This book reminded me of exactly how I felt when I fell for a married man. Intense and overwhelming chemistry was swallowing us. For me it was an experiment (I was very young and naive) and for him being fifteen years older it was a thrill of his own. I had never experienced such mind losing magnetism with any other man before and there was something so decadent in our relationship. I didn’t feel ashamed, I didn’t have a reason, he didn’t have any whatsoever guilt trips and I was 20 and living m ...more
Aug 17, 2015 Piperitapitta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
L'Origine du monde.

«Il tempo della scrittura non ha nulla a che vedere con quello della passione.»

Scarnifica e viviseziona la sua passione di donna adulta e divorziata, madre e insegnante, la sua passione per A., uomo più giovane e straniero, sposato.
Lo fa nel suo modo consueto, Annie Ernaux - «Non faccio la cronaca di una relazione, non racconto una storia (che mi sfugge per metà) con una cronologia precisa [...] Affastello soltanto i segni di una passione, oscillando senza posa tra "sempre" e
"Whether or not he was 'worth it' is of no consequence. And the fact that all this is gradually slipping away from me, as if it concerned another woman, does not change this one truth: thanks to him, I was able to approach the frontier separating me from others, to the extent of actually believing that I could sometimes cross over it. I measured time differently, with all my body. I discovered what people are capable of, in other words, anything: sublime or deadly desires, lack of dignity, attit ...more
"From September last year, I did nothing else but wait for a man: for him to call me and come round to my place."

This book surprised me. It wasn't what I expected and to be exposed to the raw emotion and sincerity of the narrator touched me deeply. The opening of the novel gripped me and never let go until I finished it in one sitting.

I appreciated the singular focus of it: the woman and her affair with the madness of love itself. It is a bare, tender and crude retelling of her torrid lo
M. Sarki
Apr 30, 2012 M. Sarki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This book has been placed on the shelf of every house I have lived in since 1995. I have kept my first printing in the best collectible condition I possibly could keep it in. The hardcover book has a Brodart archival dust jacket sleeve protecting it, and though I had never read the book, I kept it proudly displayed as if I had. So after five different homes and five different book shelves, Annie Ernaux's words finally found their way into my consciousness
"I do not wish to explain my passion -- that would imply that it were a mistake or some disorder I need to justify -- I just want to describe it." (p. 23)

I hate reading books like this, because they make me want to be in love again.

At the same time, the yin and the yang ... I love reading books like this. They are like bon bons. And they remind me of when my whole being was electrified and puffed up and full, and then of the aftermath when my insides exploded and left a wreck that jangled around
Honesty. That the first thing I love about this book. The extent of the honesty- to a pathetic, sad fault. But it is unashamed about it. And that's the other thing.

I was expecting the French to give it an increased sensuality or more of a dreamlike quality that would distract me from what was actually happening with the beauty of its expression. Instead, it gave it even more of a brtual edge, I think.

Apr 27, 2011 Bennet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-stories

If you've ever been passionately obsessed with someone to the point of complete distraction for what turns out to be no good reason, such that when it's over you have almost ceased to exist (and may even have to rebuild a world in which to resume your existence), and it is all you can do to look at your own reflection without instantly expiring from despair or shame or sheer fury . . . well, you probably want to read this. If for no other reason, to be amazed by Ernaux's succinct and searing exa
My roommate/friend Mita recommended this one to me, and I'm glad she did. it's a very quick, engrossing read - I think it took me half of a day to read.

Very simply, this is a portrait of one woman's position as a mistress to a married man, and how her passion for him consumes her. this passion is largely one sideded (though obviously not entirely), since he is in a relationship, and comes and goes as he pleases. It's a very accurate, touching and beautiful portrayal of someone engrossed and swep
Jan 07, 2008 Tara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is somewhere between an autobiographic account, a novella, a philosophical meandering, and an investigation of psychology. It's about the author's experience with intense sexual obsession. I read it in a single sitting. The writing is quite beautiful and the author's exploration of her experience is interesting. Not five stars but still pretty awesome.
Mar 13, 2013 Vishy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Simple Passion’ by Annie Ernaux was one of the books mentioned in Lance Donaldson-Evans’ ‘One Hundred Great French Books’. I haven’t heard of Annie Ernaux before and so decided to try this book. I read it in one sitting and finished it yesterday. Here is what I think.

‘Simple Passion’, at around sixty pages, is not really a novel. With wide spacing between lines and with luxurious space on the borders of the page, it could be called, at best, a novella or probably a long short story. It is not c
"Simple Passion" -Annie Ernaux (1991)

I'm torn between liking and disliking this book. It begins a bit slowly for me, and tends to drag on through the first half, describing this woman's affair with a man we as the readers never quite come to know. While I wasn't pulled into it right away, there is something to be said about Ernaux's writing style (or the translation, or perhaps a combination of both) that makes it a quick read.

Toward the second half, the book really starts to become interesting
Dec 08, 2010 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, so it's a little obsessive but hey, we've all been there. Ernaux writes what the rest of us experience but are too ashamed to admit. Read it in the original French... it makes it seem less creepy and more passionate.
Blanca García
Aug 02, 2011 Blanca García rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Pese a mi descomunal enfado por la pérdida económica que siempre acarrea comprobar que se ha adquirido BASURA, tengo que reconocer que necesitaba leer un libro así; llevaba demasiado tiempo leyendo sólo grandes obras literarias, por lo que algo tendría que frenar la racha o todo sería demasiado sunshine, lollypops, et caetera, et caetera.

Bazofia machista de encefalograma plano. Podría plagar esta reseña con citas constantes de cada una de las páginas del libro que corroboran este hecho, pero aun
Mike Ingram
There's not much story, rather there's the aftermath of a story (an affair the narrator/author had with a married man), but the affair and even its aftermath are described only in abstractions, so that it could in effect be a generic meditation on ANY passionate affair's aftermath (and, really, we only know it's passionate because she keeps telling us it was passionate, without ever bothering to recreate the actual passion in concrete language or imagery). Since there wasn't much story, I guess ...more
This reminded me a lot of Marguerite Duras' The Lover, which is a far better book. It's got the same straightforward, honest appraisal of a woman's actions within an intense -- though that's Erneaux's word, not mine -- affair, but I feel it lacks the insight and, well, intensity, Duras brings to the subject. I would be interested, since it wouldn't be too much of a waste of time given the book's brevity, to read it in its original French. I suspect it may pack a little more punch that way.
Dec 10, 2008 William rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
A portrait of pure obsession (a woman for a married man), the likes of which most of us will thankfully never experience. This is an interesting glance into the mind of a woman who could find no meaning in life beyond her existence for her lover.
Ariane Gagnon
Aug 01, 2012 Ariane Gagnon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romans
Très «journal intime», il ne s'y passe pas grand chose, et l'on se demande l'intérêt de publier ce texte publiquement. L'ancêtre du blog trop personnel ? Peut-être.
Dec 31, 2010 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pretty intense depiction of a woman having a self-destructive love affair. I'd pair this with Micheline Aharonian Marcum's The Woman in the Well.
Jul 27, 2011 Véronique rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
pour toutes les amantes passionnées. simple??? mon dieu non! douloureux.
Cinthia Ritchie
Feb 10, 2013 Cinthia Ritchie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So damned sparse, haunting and beautiful. If I could write like this I wouldn't ask for anything else.
Mar 02, 2009 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un livre aussi percutant qu'il est bref. D'une franchise et d'une honnêteté renversantes.
Amazing. The destroying force of passion and desire. Also, writing about writing. Prejudice-free and honest. I loved this.
Johanna perec
Don't miss this one. It's not some dime-store romance.
Apr 07, 2014 Tiffany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
This book could be titled: What was I thinking?!?!?!

At sixty-six short pages in length, read in earnest this book takes about forty minutes to finish. The truth is I probably spent three times as long trying to figure out what it was about. You would think this is simply a literary diorama of a woman's affair. But shocker--it is not. Question is, what is it?

Yes, it's a memoir--kind of. There is the obligatory, authenticating reference to the "lover's" current existence: Cet homme continue de viv
Feb 25, 2017 Annabelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Récit insoutenable d'une passion insupportable, où un amant insaisissable enferme la narratrice dans un huis-clos mental sans fin.
La délivrance viendra de l'extérieur, non pas de l'intervention d'un tiers mais -comme d'habitude avec Annie Ernaux- de l'écriture qui permet de penser la société -les passants, leur quotidien- comme un miroir de la souffrance individuelle, dès lors devenue collective.
Alors si "tout le monde peut vivre ça un jour", c'est à dire une " passion simple" (et que l'écritur
Pino Sabatelli
Tre stelle e mezza. La scrittura della Ernaux è sempre di alto livello, anche se ho trovato questo libro meno coinvolgente degli altri suoi che ho letto (Il posto; Gli anni; L'altra figlia).
Vamsikrishna Tm
Its so intimately written about the relationship between the author and a man with whom she had an affair.She refers him as 'A', The passion for A is deep and intense. Everything she does revolves around her furtive affair with A. Because he is married she can only rarely see him, and neither write nor call him. She is dependent on him, and imagines signs and foreshadowing s everywhere she turns, boding either well or ill for them. Her life, for the two years, revolves around little else but her ...more
Natalia Stancheva
Oct 12, 2014 Natalia Stancheva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Малка книжка, банален сюжет, чете се на един дъх и ... оставя дълъг послевкус. Една любовна история, в която единият обича, а другият – не. Изповед на жена, която умее да цени думите и е преднамерено пестелива в употребата им. От онези истории, в които не знаеш до къде спира автобиографичният елемент и от къде нататък е измисленият герой. И все пак фразите са наситени с такъв интензитет, че си даваш сметка, че разказът е от първо лице, че тези емоции са преживени. И тогава идва шокът как така е ...more
Michael Vagnetti
An affair, writing, and the tyranny of time: limiting or freeing? Crass forces threaten to circumscribe a speaker's role, create traps. Is she too much at his mercy? Can she write over him? Lethargic, drifting into a dazed future: "After he put on his jacket it would be all over. Now I was only time flowing through myself."

A writer once complained about a leader: "He is a simplifier." If there an impulse to escape discussing the affair, maybe describing is more wise: "I do not wish to explain my
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Annie Ernaux is a French writer.

She won the Prix Renaudot in 1984 for her book La Place, an autobiographical narrative focusing on her relationship with her father and her experiences growing up in a small town in France, and her subsequent process of moving into adulthood and away from her parents' place of origin.
More about Annie Ernaux...

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“Naturally I feel no shame in writing these things because of the time which separates the moment when they are written--when only I can see them--from the moment when they will be read by other people, a moment which I feel will never come. By then I could have had an accident or died; a war or a revolution could have broken out. This delay makes it possible for me to write today, in the same way I used to lie in the scorching sun for a whole day at sixteen, or make love wihout contraceptives at twenty: without thinking about the consequences” 11 likes
“Sometimes I wonder if the purpose of my writing is to find out whether other people have done or felt the same things or, if not, for them to consider experiencing such things as normal. Maybe I would also like them to live out these very emotions in turn, forgetting that they had once read about them somewhere.” 2 likes
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