In this unrelentingly bleak tale, Dean (This Human Season) explores the lives of two couples and how precarious sanity can be. Richard, an English pharmaceutical representative selling psychotropic drugs in Africa, and his wife, Valérie, an unapologetic French hedonist, live in Provence next to Jeff, a brash American, and his English wife, Rachel, who is determined to save the world one child at a time. That hope is soundly defeated after trips to an African orphanage send Jeff into Valérie's arms, and Rachel's religious outbursts impede her cause. Rachel, though, isn't the only person affected by the betrayal: Richard slowly descends into a nervous breakdown and wonders if his wife ever loved him. Meanwhile, Richard and Valérie's teenage son appears to be slipping into madness. The puzzle pieces rearrange throughout the novel, sometimes falling into unexpected patterns the reader may not see coming. Dean's gift for descriptive prose is evident, and her edgy story will shake up traditional ideas about what exactly love is. It may also send depressed readers straight for a mood stabilizer. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Idea of Loveby Louise Dean
When a cluster of expatriate families converges on Provence, it seems as if sunshine, good wine, and an endless round of parties will make for a better life. Then Richard, a pharmaceutical salesman married to sexy Valérie, lands a plum assignment: introducing antidepressants into Africa, virgin territory for the drug industry and for the womanizing he has… See more details below
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When a cluster of expatriate families converges on Provence, it seems as if sunshine, good wine, and an endless round of parties will make for a better life. Then Richard, a pharmaceutical salesman married to sexy Valérie, lands a plum assignment: introducing antidepressants into Africa, virgin territory for the drug industry and for the womanizing he has honed to a science. And idealistic Rachel finds herself Africa-bound too, in search of a little brother or sister for her daughter, Maud, and following some deeper longing she can’t seem to quell.
For both Richard and Rachel, the excursions will lead them into their own private heart of darkness, and will bring shock waves home to their little Eden, unsettling the very idea of love.
Let the rusty (or is it bloody?) razor on the jacket cover, next to a cherubic Cupid, be fair warning to the reader. This is a lacerating account of middle-aged people looking for love in the worst possible ways. All the characters in Dean's latest novel (after This Human Season) are paralyzingly miserable in their collective failure to find love. Richard, a philandering traveling salesman who is English, lives in Provence with his high-maintenance wife, Valérie, and their son, Maxence, who may or may not be "right in the head." Nearby are American Jeff and his British wife, Rachel, who are so ill matched that it's a wonder they were able to produce little Maud. When Jeff and Valérie think they have falled in love, the two marriages end up colliding. Out of the wreckage of Richard's lifehe loses his job, his family, and, for awhile, his mindcomes improbable salvation for him and Rachel and, possibly, the children. VERDICT Readers who devoured Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge will feel right at home with Dean's blindingly honest portrayal of characters so deeply flawed they practically need surgery.Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI
Beth E. Andersen
"An acute, cynical wit…An unforgettable study of the dark side of the mind."--The Times (UK)
"A dark and thought-provoking tale of what happens when dreams crack at the seams… This dares to say what nobody else will about marriage. Written with bite and edge, it will force you to question if anyone is capable of being faithful …"--Eve (UK)
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Meet the Author
LOUISE DEAN lives in France. Becoming Strangers, long-listed for the 2004 Man Booker Prize and winner of the Betty Trask Award, is her first book.
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