something to tell you
by Carole Fives
Gallimard, 178 pages, €18
“All my life, I dreamed of being a flight attendant”, sang Jacques Dutronc. All her life, Elsa Feuillet, a young novelist from Lyon, dreamed of being Béatrice Blandy, a novelist more famous than herself. She has read all her books and knows everything about her. His admiration, for his incisive writing and his success, turned to obsession until he took himself for this other. But she had never dared to seek to meet her. Béatrice Blandy has just died of a devastating cancer and Elsa Feuillet publishes her new novel. She hesitated to dedicate it to him but quotes it in the epigraph.
To her great surprise, she receives a note from Thomas Blandy, the widower who wishes to meet her and invites her to his home. Here she is entering into the conjugal intimacy of her model and, little by little, from visits to spaced out but regular visits, settles down. Intrusion facilitated by the love declared to her by Beatrice’s husband, offering her to live with him.
Elsa Feuillet is now in the square, amid paintings by Picasso, masters of cubism and lithographs by Andy Warhol, the wealthy world of the deceased, from a large family, and her countless portraits on the walls. . She slips into the habits, the bed, the bathtub, the perfume and even the clothes of the deceased, she who wanted so much to look like her. When she makes love with the widower she consoles, she is under the gaze of Béatrice whose resplendent photo sits on the bedside table. When she opens her eyes when she wakes up, Beatrice is still there. As in the Rebecca of Hitchcock and Daphne du Maurier (minus the tragedy), the substitution takes place gradually, condemned by the housekeeper who makes her feel her hostility. Elsa navigates a mausoleum, confronted by an invading specter.
Béatrice’s editor turns up. She is convinced that a posthumous manuscript has remained outstanding. She would like to publish it and demands it from Thomas, her husband, who is rearing up. He never heard of it. Beatrice left nothing, he assures with force. As in Blue Beard, a piece remains forbidden to Elsa. Beatrice’s office-refuge, an inviolate and respected sanctuary.
Vertigo and jubilation
The temptation is too strong. Elsa pushes open the door, enters, absorbs the atmosphere of the dead. Come back to it. Searches, leafs through the diaries and finds the unfinished manuscript. What to do with it? The idea creeps in, takes shape. What if she secretly appropriated this secret heritage until the identity theft? Her package accomplished, Elsa Feuillet dominates the literary season, praised for her writing skills. To her now the laurels of glory…
With this roman à clef, her sixth, Carole Fives does not hide from borrowing elements from the real life of Emmanuele Bernheim, a novelist who died prematurely, and from her own existence. A high-flying thriller with skilful construction, precision mechanics and manipulation, this subtle homage distils a pregnant atmosphere where surprise competes with the fear of being unmasked, where admiration rubs shoulders with indignation at the amoral methods of the character. The final reversal in the last pages completes the romantic mastery of Carole Fives who abandons her reader in the heart of a literary and jubilant vertigo.
Source : WORLD NEWS