Woman in the Row Behind by Francoise Dorner, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Woman in the Row Behind

Woman in the Row Behind

by Francoise Dorner
     
 
"As an entomologist of the ways of love, [Dorner] has a rare precision . . . we devour her book, realizing that it shows the building and the destruction of a couple carried away by work and day-to-day concerns. Her story is our own, and that is why we love it."
-Paris Match

To save our marriage I tried offering him another woman. He

Overview

"As an entomologist of the ways of love, [Dorner] has a rare precision . . . we devour her book, realizing that it shows the building and the destruction of a couple carried away by work and day-to-day concerns. Her story is our own, and that is why we love it."
-Paris Match

To save our marriage I tried offering him another woman. He has started fantasizing about her. He doesn't know it's me . . . and she is now destroying us.

Nina and Roger have a humdrum marriage, not helped by the pressures of their work running a newspaper kiosk on the shaded side of a busy street in Paris. Shuttling between her straight-laced husband, her selfish mother, the father she has never known, and her best friend who has—inconveniently—just split up with her brother-in-law, Nina decides one day to leaf through the girlie magazines she sells every day. She glimpses a world of pleasure and desire, and innocently believes she has found a way of rekindling something that may never have been there. As she explores her own longings and discovers how attractive she is to other men, how can she fail to win back the attention of the man she loves?

“These bitter pages—which flay both the flesh and the heart—tell the story of a love which would rather commit suicide than leave itself to die. There is no doubt [with this first novel] an author is born.”
—Elle

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Library Journal Leigh Anne Vrabel
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.

Publishers Weekly
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.

Kirkus Reviews
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.

Chicago Tribune
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.

Publishers Weekly
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. Frustrated that her new husband, Roger, no longer seems to appreciate her, Nina takes a few lessons from the porn mags stocked at the couple's sidewalk newsstand. She begins flirting with the customers and, wearing a black wig, black raincoat and heavy orchid perfume, follows her husband to the movie theater. 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 Gisele; and the thick, unenlightened Roger. Moreover, Nina confronts the long, deeply scarring absence of her father, as this "invisible little woman" (as she mockingly describes herself) discovers the full flower of her femininity. As powerful feelings and further experimentation take hold, Dorner does a lovely job of showing the stakes in the marriage and its fault lines. (June 13) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Dorner's debut novel, winner of the 2004 Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman, offers a disturbing yet flawed look at one couple's failure to communicate. Bored with Roger's limited sexual repertoire, Nina tries to inject a little spice into their marriage. Roger's failure to respond baffles Nina, forcing her to try increasingly ludicrous schemes to arouse his interest. Her efforts culminate in the creation of "the other," a fantasy woman who favors black leather and exotic perfume. However, when Roger falls in love with "the other," Nina is forced to acknowledge the couple's irreconcilable differences. Dorner's excellent concept is somewhat marred by her flat characterization; this is especially apparent in the subplots involving Nina's mother, a harridan who makes Joan Crawford look positively saintly. The timing of certain late-chapter revelations is clumsy, with at least one twist that smacks of deus ex machina. However, 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.-Leigh Anne Vrabel, Carnegie Lib. of Pittsburgh Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Winner of the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman, this unsentimental account of a sexually unhappy young wife is half Madame Bovary, half The Story of O. Nina, the narrator of this slender but biting novel, is the daughter of a needy mother and the wife of a stolid, self-reliant, sexually conservative husband. With him, Nina works at a news kiosk in Paris during the week and entertains her mother and her inlaws on weekends. Nina's life is colorless and uneventful, her relationship to her husband and her family routine and unsurprising. One afternoon, working alone at the kiosk, Nina begins to fantasize about her male customers. She makes a rapid progression from fantasy to reality, meeting several of them for illicit trysts. With her lovers, she becomes a new woman, one capable of dominating men and surprising herself with her sexual imagination. She grows aware of what she doesn't have at home, but remains almost entirely ignorant of how to get it. When she tries her new sophistication on her husband, he is by turns disgusted and saddened. The real twist here comes when Nina disguises herself as a Chinese woman and meets her own husband in the darkness of a movie house. Her affair with her own husband is what finally drives a wedge between the two. 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 andsex, 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590511862
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
06/13/2006
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
4.97(w) x 7.77(h) x 0.45(d)

Meet the Author

Francoise Dorner

Francoise Dorner is an actor, playwright, and screenwriter. In 1994 she was awarded the Prix du Jeune Théâtre by the Académie Française for two of her plays. The Woman in the Row Behind, which won the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman in 2004, is her first novel. She lives in Paris.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >