Book review: Too Close to the Edge – I love France 185

Too Close to the Edge

Too Close to the Edge

Pascal Garnier
Emily Boyce
Gallic Books

US Release date:
June 7, 2016
Trop près du bord
was released in France in 2013
also available as ebook
Mystery/ Crime Thriller/ Suspense / Noir


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Pascal Garnier has the knack for starting his story with a common situation in the life of common people and turning it into a nightmare and descent into hell. His formula worked again for me in Too Close to the Edge.

Charles and Éliette lived an untarnished love for forty years. Then he died, a couple of months before his retirement.
Éliette is now 64, she has two children and three grandchildren. She lives by herself near Montélimar, in the Ardèche region.
She’s content to a certain point: she loves her family, but does not want to see them too often. She gradually starts feeling disgusted by the way she let herself go and by her lack of sex life.

Her neighbors Paul and Rose Jauberts are working hard, too hard to her taste, to keep her busy. So she buys a “microcar” to get more independence and freedom.
One day, on her way from the supermarket, her car gets a flat. Out of nowhere appears a man in his 40s, in a three-piece suit. He helps her. He says his own car broke down, and there’s a horrible thunderstorm, so she invites him in her house. He accepts and makes himself more and more at home. In the meantime, Paul announces his son Patrick was just killed in a car accident.

Éliette is happy to have someone in her house, and she’ll be led to accept more strangers, with unexpected consequences that will totally transform her life.

Through Éliette’s character, Pascal Garnier tackles the theme of contentment with one’s life. Are you happy with your current life? Are you daring to open your door to novelty and risk? To what extent? Will you follow through when it leads you to new horizons and possibly to a new you?
This is connected with the theme of identity: is Éliette the woman with a common façade of “the good wife and mother, the dignified widow”, or is she someone very different inside, that will be only revealed when events push her to the edge?

And as in Moon in a Dead Eye, it is focused on seniors and what one may do during retirement years.

A pair of pensioners were getting some air, sitting in front of their front garden. They didn’t say a word to one another, looking straight ahead at a future that already belonged to the past.

Garnier manages to lead you little by little to dark and hopeless situations, all the more so that he deftly juxtaposes poetry with violence.

All around, the mountains were steaming, streaked ochre an purple and foaming minty green to freshen the wind’s breath.

She had once read a definition of poetry as “two words meeting for the first time”.


The sun filtering through the part-closed shutters cast a ladder of light on the wall.

Some of his descriptions are grotesque and even gross:

…in a voice which called to mind a priest with a pickled liver.

He doesn’t hesitate either pushing the edge of the envelop (with incest, drugs, and alcohol, already central in The Islanders).


Pascal Garnier a le chic pour vous faire passer rapidement d’une petite vie bien tranquille et très ordinaire aux bords de l’abîme. Les apparences peuvent facilement être trompeuses, et ouvrir sa porte à un étranger peut révéler en vous-même une identité inattendue, prête à tout…

VERDICT: The great author of French noir bluntly looks at the seemingly quiet life of a senior. Opening your door may lead you to unexpected ominous horizons and possibly to revealing a new you dormant behind a façade all these years.


A widow’s quiet retirement in the foothills of the Alps is turned upside down by the arrival of a mysterious stranger.
Recently widowed grandmother Éliette is returning to her house in the mountains when her car breaks down. A stranger offers help and Éliette gives him a lift, glad of the company and interruption to her routine.
A tale of retirement and calm domesticity, with a hint of menace about to explode.


Pascal Garnier

Pascal Garnier, who died in March 2010, was a talented novelist,
short story writer, children’s author and painter.
From his home in the mountains of the Ardèche,
he wrote fiction in a noir palette with a cast of characters drawn from ordinary provincial life.
Though his writing is often very dark in tone,
it sparkles with quirkily beautiful imagery and dry wit.
Garnier’s work has been likened to the great thriller writer, Georges Simenon.
Read an article by Pascal Garnier, describing his path to becoming a writer.

View all books by Pascal Garnier or discover more Gallic authors

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In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this ebook for free from Gallic Books through Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer, and the thoughts are my own.

This book counted for the following Reading Challenges

CDChallengebadge2016-204x300  French Bingo 2016 logo

Books in Translation 2016 New-Release-Challenge2016


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