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Sans Moi Paperback – 10 Apr 2001

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Paperback, 10 Apr 2001
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; New edition edition (10 April 2001)
  • ISBN-10: 1862074097
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862074095
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 12.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,073,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Marie Desplechin's Sans Moi is as elegant and economical in structure as a little black dress by Agnés b. Translated from the French by Will Hobson, a contributing editor to Granta Magazine, the novel tracks the friendship between two women, Olivia, a recovering drug addict, and the narrator, a writer, who employs Olivia to mind her children. The facts of Olivia's life are brutal: needles and pills, an incestuous brother-in-law, and a too-close acquaintance with drug dealers and debt collectors. But as she says: "I turn everything that happens to me into a joke. That's why people like me." The "evanescent substance of her soul" certainly has the narrator hooked: "Her voice affects me like a mountain spring. It wakes me up and enchants me." The children love Olivia, as does everyone who comes into contact with her harsh wit and her duplicitous capacity for re-invention. The narrator has got her own struggles: single parenthood, a soulless writing job and a life that is accelerating off the rails. She is rueful and sharp: "My cowardice leads me as a rule, never to tackle a problem head-on. I prefer defeat to confrontation." It should be an overheated novel, all that downbeat angst and career anxiety on collision mode, but Desplechin's writing has a kind of fierce control. She deals with emotional turmoil with a spare delicacy, and manages to create a picture of contemporary life that is both desperate and hopeful. Eithne Farry --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"'This is an unexpected take on the au pair-from-hell scenario, beautifully done - honest, funny and, finally, deeply touching.' Aura 'Every so often you read a novel which causes you to machine-dye your preconceptions about relationships until the washed-out grey becomes a vivid, lipstick pink. In Sans Moi, a very big hit in France, Marie Desplechin achieves exactly that, through the gentlest methods imaginable.' The Times 'A beguiling, triumphant novel, defiant of the gravity of its subject matter.' Independent"

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This excellent first novel tells a simple story, the odd friendship that develops between two women with nothing in common: the un-named narrator and her new babysitter, Olivia. The first is a well-educated single mother with everything going for her: two charming kids, a nice apartment, a lucrative job. The second is a basket case, an abused child who was raped by her foster father, semi-literate, with no skills and a serious drug habit. "Of the prize-winning lineup of liars and addicts life had thrown at me, she took the palm, the laurel wreath, the entire triumphal arch," the narrator reflects. "It was also clear on the day after we met that I felt as if I'd known her forever." Olivia is a mess, but she is also cheery and charming. And the kids love her. The narrator helps her back onto her feet, and we slowly realize that of the two women, Olivia may not be the most in need of help. It is a very good novel, one of the best I have read in a long time. It is cosy and intimate, a slice of modern city life, acutely observed and full of what the French call les petits riens, the little nothings of daily life, our banal fears and tragedies and search for happiness. And the dialogue is superb. The critics that compared Desplechin to Raymond Carver and Dorthy Parker are not wrong.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read a short story by Desplechin in an anthology and wanted to read more. I love her wry voice and psychological insight. This is her only adult novel,(she has writen children's books too). It is marvelous. I love Elizabeth Strout's 'Amy and Isabelle', and this reminded me of it, because both books share a slow build up in which we are immersed into a relationship between two women. That means for much of the book, little of consequence happens. But in fact it is teeming with little nothings that build a full picture of the narrator. And, like Strout's underrated masterpiece, delivers a satisfying and optimistic conclusion about self discovery and acceptance.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9d5b0570) out of 5 stars 1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9db46888) out of 5 stars Despleche Mode (And We Love It) 12 May 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most gentle narratives I've yet read, with Desplechin's ability to handle the complexities of her subject matter with a deft touch leaving the distinct feeling that the same material, in other writer's hands, could become more melodramtic and infinitely less effective. The novel focuses on two Parisian women, one a rehabilitating drug addict and the other a seperated successful freelance writer and mother-of-two, and the ups and downs of their relationship. What I really liked about the novel was the downplayment of the narration, which contains within it a very left-of-centre sense of humour, very cynical in its way, but ultimately very warming. Overall I found the book swift to read, and a novel that I would defy you not to enjoy.
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