This was a strange book, in a good way, I hasten to add! Very unlike most others I’ve read, either recently or not so recently. It begins in a most charming manner, introducing the reader to Martial and Odette Sudre, retired professionals married over 40 years and now entering a new phase of their lives, leaving Suresnes, “the Parisian suburb they had called home for more than twenty years” to move to Les Conviviales. a retirement village in the Midi, boasting “an active life in the sunshine [where] you’re protected and secure, with a dedicated caretaker-manager on site 365 days of the year.” Initially they find Les Conviviales a bit disconcerting: “There was something a bit strange about all these houses that looked the same, though; it felt like ringing their own doorbell.”
The first and only residents of the complex for the first month, the Sudres are soon joined by Maxime and Marlene Node, a couple of similar background who had lived in the residential neighborhood of Orleans, and then by Lea, a single woman who the others speculate may be a widow. Monsieur Gerard Flesh, the aforementioned caretaker, and ultimately Nadine, the 45-yeyar-old woman hired to organize the activities and run the clubhouse and who finds a bit of cannabis soothing, round out the residents. “It made Martial smile. For the time being, there were still just the five of them, with no new arrivals on the cards. They weren’t exactly fighting for space in the pool. In fact, it was starting to feel a bit weird, all the empty houses.” But they all have their little quirks. Maxime, for example, feels comforted with his gun behind the cushions of his wheelchair. The atmosphere changes soon, however, with the appearance just beyond the gates of caravans of gypsies, apparently an annual event, and a sense of unease sets in, the residents’ sense of isolation suddenly seeming threatening.
Pascal Garnier, prize-winning author of over 60 books [of which this was the third published in the US], was born in Paris in 1949 and passed away in 2010. Next up for this reviewer is his The Front Seat Passenger, which was published by Gallic Books in the US in September of 2014, to which I am greatly looking forward. Recommended....Continua