Jill's Reviews > Enough about Love

Enough about Love by Hervé Le Tellier
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's review
May 01, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: best-of-2011

Enough About Love is a quintessentially French novel about the vagaries and capriciousness of love. Two women – Anna and Louise – both beautiful, both married with children, both married to successful and trustworthy men, uproot their lives thorough unexpected yet passionate affairs with two unusual men. Anna, married to another respected physician, falls under the spell of Yves, a writer. In the meantime, Anna’s analyst, Thomas, has gotten into his own tryst with Louise, an attractive lawyer married to a much-renowned scientist named Romain.

With a structure borrowed from a game of Abkhazian dominoes – discussed briefly in one section of the book – the various characters (Anna and Louise, their husbands, and their lovers) find themselves interacting in all kinds of combinations. We see, for example, Louise with Thomas (her lover), followed by a chapter with Louise and Romain (her husband), followed by another chapter of Thomas and Romain…and so on.

There are a few chapters that stand out for their audacity and their elegance. In one of them, Yves (the author and lover of Anna) is conducting a public reading on the subject of “foreignness.” In the audience is Stan (the husband) who feels like the ultimate foreigner as he puzzles why his wife would be attracted to this man and castigates himself for letting the magic slip away. The juxtaposition of these two men is displayed in a two-column “split screen”, visually communicating the differences between them.

In another, Yves is signing copies of his book when a man who he presumes is Anna’s husband enters the bookstore. He lectures Yves on one of the author’s former books, stating, “…he also suspects she loves him because he embodies unpredictability, a sense of adventure she always longed for, but he exploits her dreams to draw her in. It’s a woman thing, like Emma Bovary meeting her Rodolphe.” He forces Yves to hold a mirror to himself.

In yet a third vignette, Yves presents Anna with a book he wrote about her – Forty Memories of Anna Stein – bursting with intimacy and immediacy. As readers, we become compliant in the affair, being titillated with the passionate details.

And so, love in all its interactions is explored – married love, adulterous love, rejected love, mundane love, love that endures, love that dies out. There are many, many pithy lines and startling revelations from an author who is obviously confident and even playful in his craft.

As someone who married late in life, with an understanding of the fragility of relationships and the false euphoria of “love” flirtations, the cavalier attitude of the characters was sometimes unsettling to me. It is a testament to the power and mastery of this work that I placed my own value system aside and read on, enchanted, with no doubt in my mind that this was an intelligently-crafted, beautifully rendered work. In the end, it is a delicious read.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Julie Christine Just added this to my TBR, so I anxiously await your review. I have to giggle, however. While in France a couple of weeks ago, we had dinner with friends in Pezenas. The other guest was a film-maker from Paris (music documentaries, mostly Jazz). He went off on a grenache-fueled tirade about the problems with French cinema, ranting how sick and tired he was of relationship melodramas, marital infidelities, same old same old. Exactly what this novel sounds to be made of! What could be more French than a story of love found love lost love found with one person while still loving another...and the food is always so damn good... ;)

Jill I'm about two-thirds done and so far, I'm very favorably impressed. It's a whimsical and intelligent book. My only concern is the same as your friend's. I married later in life, and like any "convert", I think you need to work things through, not bail out at the first temptation. But, that's imposing my values on a fictional work, which is simply WRONG. (And YES, I gain 10 pounds just LOOKING in the window of the French bistros).

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