Thursday, August 24, 2006

Escaping into someone else's book

After several days of swapping between projects and making leaps between an exotic ancient world, a pagan world, and contemporary London, my head was so full of my own characters bumping into each other in the wrong story, I was in danger of going crazy. Okay, even more crazy.

So I escaped into someone else’s book, and it was the best possible thing I could have done. This one had been calling me from the bookshelves, where I've had it waiting for far too long, AFTER BREATHLESS by Jennifer Potter. The story is about a 19 year old British student studying in France in 1969, and it's a must read for fans of French film, as I am. Janey, the protagonist, has an affair with an older French man, Georges, because he reminds her of Jean Paul Belmondo in "Breathless". The book reads, in part, like a homage. Georges is compelling, but shadowy. Right from the start we know he has a double life. The story is told in flashback from 20 years on. Janey is forced to confront the ghost of her past, when she sees her old lover on TV. Told in first person, the tale comes together in a compelling jigsaw, the pieces all finally slotting into place.

Early on in the book it reminded me of one of my favourite films, Betty Blue, and it also reminded me of Anais Nin (although I hasten to add it is very sexy throughout, but this is not erotica.) Later on in its characterisation, its reflections on life and the crazy things we do when we're in love, reminded me of another of my favourites, Almodovar. Potter looks at human nature, how we view our own image and that of those we love, how we hide from what we don’t want to know, how we see the past and how that effects our future. There is a subtle commentary about art, poetry, literature and philosophy woven throughout. There is humour, mystery, and suspense. It says on the cover “violently romantic.” It is, but it’s not a romance, in fact in a subtle twist at the end the protagonist says: "I want to tell you a story...I thought it was a love story, but it’s not." Intrigued? I was. Such a terrific read. I wish I could write like that.

More from me soon.

1 comment:

Nikki said...

sounds like a wonderful book, Saskia. I shall add it to my long list of 'to be reads'... plenty of which are already stacked on tables, chairs and floor, threatening to bury us under the weight of good literature.