This slim, swift read demonstrates talent and potential and will appeal to urban sophisticates looking for the latest in world fiction. An optional purchase for larger collections.
The snappy, funny first novel by French playwright Dorner (awarded the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman last year) observes the sad, sweet machinations of a bored young working-class Parisian wife. Dorner's colloquial first-person narrative, which feels like a riff on an early '60s film starring Catherine Deneuve, also charmingly navigates Nina's dutiful relationships with her needy, possessive mother; unhappy childhood friend Gisèle; and the thick, unenlightened Roger. As powerful feelings and further experimentation take hold, Dorner does a lovely job of showing the stakes in the marriage and its fault lines.
Although the story's plot is fantastical, Dorner's writing is hypnotic. Nina's voice—at turns joyless, curious, tentative and despairing—is utterly believable, and the spare descriptions of a deteriorating marriage are compelling. This is not a story about a woman's sexual awakening, nor is it a morality tale about the dangers of sexual fantasy. Rather, it is a sophisticated, stylish meditation about the unexpected connections between longing and sex, and about the impossibility of really knowing even those people to whom we are most attached. A grim, sharp-edged look at the emotional emptiness of marital intimacy.
Fun, lighthearted debut novel about a Parisian wife whose desperate attempts to garner her husband's affections include following him in sexy disguise.
CityStyle Lori Walsh
A slim and classic summer read.
Los Angeles Times
Told in a deadpan voice ably rendered by veteran translator Adriana Hunter, Dorner's tale abounds with snappy visuals and dark situation comedy... (The Woman in the Row Behind) succeeds beautifully as tragic farce.
New York Times Andrew Ervin
A precise and thought-provoking novel of ideas wrapped in the garish trappings of chick lit....The Woman in the Row Behind is a small and sophisticated novel of big ideas, many of them extremely naughty.