Past events

Book Club #3

Dans ces bras-là, de Camille Laurens (2002)

« Livre sur les hommes, sur l’amour des hommes : objet aimés, sujets aimants »

The male-obsessed Camille, a French librarian and author, narrates this tale while her marriage dissolves. She sees a strange man in a restaurant, follows him, and, discovering that he is a psychiatrist, becomes his patient. Camille describes to her editor the nature of her next novel: a book in which the female character is defined, not by women but by men: father, temporary and lasting lovers, husband (on his way out), and the psychiatrist himself. In short chapters, the narration changes from first-person sessions with Abel the psychiatrist to third-person descriptions of Camille’s relations to and with the other men in her life, conveying in the process an extraordinary amount of information about the characters’ erotic, cultural and religious lives.

This challenging, beautifully written story within a story is both self-conscious and clever and is rich with literary references. It evokes such different novels as Milan Kundera’s Immortality (1991), where the author participates as a character, and Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, with its eroticism and unflattering descriptions of a discarded husband.