Life Is Short and Desire Endless

( 1 )

Overview

This delicious novel revolves around a classic love triangle: two men and one woman. She is English, they are French and American. The Frenchman is married, the American is not. None of this makes any difference. The woman—elusive, unreliable, a classic femme fatale—flits back and forth between her two lovers, driving them both mad.
   Lapeyre’s subtle, graceful, yet compulsively readable narrative shows us the folly of men who fall helplessly in love with women ...
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Life Is Short and Desire Endless

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Overview

This delicious novel revolves around a classic love triangle: two men and one woman. She is English, they are French and American. The Frenchman is married, the American is not. None of this makes any difference. The woman—elusive, unreliable, a classic femme fatale—flits back and forth between her two lovers, driving them both mad.
   Lapeyre’s subtle, graceful, yet compulsively readable narrative shows us the folly of men who fall helplessly in love with women they don’t understand. Its theme is universal and its humor is sly. It is the perfect introduction in English to this brilliant writer’s work.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An appealing oddness of language elevates Lapeyre’s English-language debut above the standard love triangle story. Louis Bleriot-Ringuet, known as Blériot, is French; Nora Neville is English; Murphy Blomdale is American. Murphy works in finance, and Blériot, married to Sabine, works as a translator but often relies on his parents, friends, and wife for money. Nora, who takes acting classes, is “a strange, fairly unstable girl... both sassy and oddly taciturn,” in Murphy’s view. They live together in London until Nora moves to Paris and begins an affair with Blériot. Murphy misses her terribly, finds little satisfaction at work, and visits a childhood friend of Nora’s to gain insight into Nora’s character. In Paris, Nora finds work in a hotel and continues her affair with Blériot, but the attendant complications, including Sabine’s growing suspicions, bring Nora to miss Murphy, setting in motion events that will change the lives of all involved. With the exception of a postmodern turn late in the narrative, Lapeyre’s novel, winner of the 2010 Prix Femina, engaging though it is, won’t take readers anywhere they haven’t been before. (June)
From the Publisher
“In lucid, elegant prose Patrick Lapeyre explores the obsessive love of two men for the same woman. Wonderfully cinematic, readers will be quickly seduced by this engrossing story told with a sensibility that could only be French. A truly memorable novel!” —Katharine Davis, author of Capturing Paris and East Hope

“An appealing oddness of language elevates Lapeyre’s English-language debut above the standard love triangle story.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Lapeyre writes with great wit and sly craft on the miseries of unfulfilled relationships.” —Kirkus 
 
“There are no easy answers in Lapeyre’s discomfiting novel… but the journey is absorbing.” —New York Times Book Review

Kirkus Reviews
One need look no further than the apt title to uncover the frustrations of the two main male characters. At one point in the novel one of Nora Neville's lovers wonders whether "she secretes an active substance when she comes in contact with men, one that singlehandedly makes them fall at her feet," and after a brief acquaintance, the reader is persuaded that this is an accurate depiction of her singular powers. Although she's reputed to have many lovers, Lapeyre focuses on two: Murphy Blomdale, an American businessman living in London, and Louis Blériot, a hapless Parisian even more desperately in love with the elusive and provocative Nora. Blériot is a translator, and when the novel opens he hasn't heard from Nora for two long and anguished years, but he gets a phone call--fortuitously on Ascension Day--and they rekindle their relationship. Although Blomdale had been sharing an apartment with Nora, Blériot is more secretive and constrained, of necessity because he's married to Sabine, a French intellectual in whom he's lost interest since his introduction to the alluring Nora. Blériot can be either ecstatic or miserable in her company, depending on how capricious she happens to be at a given moment, while Blomdale is a bit more circumspect--but still generally miserable. Eventually Blériot and Blomdale meet--almost accidentally--in London when Blériot can't stand his life without Nora anymore (and not so coincidentally finds his marriage falling apart) and so goes to London to seek out some of her old haunts. Lapeyre writes with great wit and sly craft on the miseries of unfulfilled relationships.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590514849
  • Publisher: Other Press, LLC
  • Publication date: 6/19/2012
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,424,971
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.08 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick Lapeyre is the author of six acclaimed novels, all published by Éditions P.O.L, including L’Homme-soeur, which was awarded the Prix du Livre Inter in 2004. Life Is Short and Desire Endless was also nominated for the Prix Goncourt and the Prix Renaudot.
 
Adriana Hunter studied French and Drama at the University of London. She has translated more than forty books including Enough About Love by Hervé Le Tellier (Other Press) and has been short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize twice. She lives in Norfolk, England.
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Read an Excerpt

Given that the time difference between London and Paris is one hour, it is at about four thirty on that same May day that Murphy Blomdale opens the door to his apartment, puts down his luggage and, after a couple of minutes, has the chilling feeling that Nora is no longer there.
   Everything around him seems strangely calm and lifeless, the windows out onto the courtyard have been left open and, in the space of three days, silence has crept into the apartment, infiltrating every nook and cranny, yet giving a different resonance from one room to the next. The place has never felt so vast and abandoned to him.
   Time itself seems to be standing still, exactly as if this moment of his life, this slice of afternoon, has seized up altogether and nothing will ever come after it.
   Shaking off this morbid spell, Murphy carries on with his exploration, going from the living room to his study, then his study to their bedroom: the wardrobe is empty, the drawers tipped out as if after a burglary and, instead of frames with their photos in them, all that is left on the pedestal table is a little layer of dust and a set of keys.
   Enough said.
   Anyone else in his position would already have accepted the evidence.
But not him. He can’t seem to believe it. In fact, he peers at himself in the mirror to see whether he looks as if he believes it, but no, he has the eyes of someone who doesn’t.
   There must be some explanation for this sort of denial. Murphy Blomdale is big on voluntarism, he is one hundred percent American, both austere and hyperactive, held up as an example by his bosses; this is a man who is confronted daily by the anarchic tides of the financial world, by the unpredictability of markets, the speed of exchanges, and the volatility of capitals. In short, nothing that might prepare him for being the male lead in a romantic drama one day.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 26, 2012

    This is a love story, no doubt about that. But it’s not th

    This is a love story, no doubt about that. But it’s not the type that will leave you fantasizing about your high school sweetheart. This is a glimpse into the darker sides of love and lust. This story is all about character development, with very little action. The narration is broken up into chapters about two men, and one woman, who have had their lives turned upside down by Nora. Nothing is written from Nora’s point of view, which keeps her as enigmatic and elusive to the reader as she is to the other characters. Nora could easily represent something larger than herself, considering the intense longing that follows in her wake. This is a great book for someone interested in psychological development and relationships and was the winner of the 2010 Prix Femina.

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