In The 6:41 to Paris, Blondel featured two characters who reconnected after many years, while mostly focusing on their thoughts. There are similarities in Exposed, with even more lyricism.
This time, the two characters are two men: one day, Claret, who teaches English and is close to retirement age, receives a private invitation to attend a gallery opening. The painter is his former student Laudin.
Even though Claret feels a stranger in the art world, he decides to attend. From there, a relationship develops between the two men, especially as Laudin asked his former teacher to pose for him.
The book is written in Claret’s first person narrative. Interspersed in italics are his memories.
There are thousands of us like this, aging adults, standing motionless outside the door to a building or the gate to a house, trying to reconstruct an afterward, while the moles of the present are digging tunnels through our memory.
And memories are essential here: as Claret spends hours posing, silently or chatting with the artist, he feels deeply Exposed, dissected even, as his older days surfaces back to his consciousness. All kinds of feelings start emerging in him, even though he had felt dead inside for years, especially since his divorce. And the power of words rekindles his love for writing as well. The posing sessions open up a sort of gentleness in him, far from his ordered life full of to-do lists.
My passion for books and words that swell, pierce your skin, and cause your throat to dry and the veins on your temples to pound in just a few sentences. Pages 13-14
There are great descriptions of paintings, on art, and on friendship.
One day I’ll learn the names of colors, because once you master the colors, then you can chase the black away.
I love a lot how on the last page the author recapitulates his character’s journey with the titles of the chapters, evoking the colors both of the paintings and of his life experience.
This the type of literary fiction I thoroughly enjoy: short and punchy as the French know how to do. There’s not much happening on the outside, but we witness a major inner change, like a rebirth when you think the old tree might be dead.
The lyricism of the style makes this short book even more powerful.
VERDICT: Powerful and lyrical portrait of a man revisiting his life. Must read literary fiction.
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Blondel, author of the hugely popular novel The 6:41 to Paris, evokes an intimacy of dangerous intensity in a tale marked by profound nostalgia and a reckoning with the past that allows its two characters to move ahead into the future. [provided by the publisher]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
was born in 1964 in Troyes, France
where he lives as an author and English teacher.
His novel The 6:41 to Paris has been acclaimed
in both the United States and Europe.
ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR
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We In full compliance with FTC Guidelines, I received this book free of charge from the publisher through a book tour organized by France Book Tours. I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer, and the thoughts are my own.