FANFAN by Alexandre Jardin


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 In this sprightly novel, 28-year-old Jardin (whose The Zebra and In the Fast Lane were published in Great Britain) proves that even when it comes to Generation X literature, the French continue to come out on top in the style category. Narrator Alexandre CrusoÇ is a descendant of that swashbuckling adventurer Robinson. His parents are artistic eccentrics who live apart in Paris during the week, then convene for the weekend at their country home with various ``friends'' in tow. When, at 13, he delivers a surprise Mother's Day breakfast there, he realizes that his parents are not faithful to each other, and the house becomes an emblem of debauchery for him. Boldly, Alexandre pledges to find a serious, conformist girlfriend, marry her, and remain faithful for life. At 19 he appears to have met his ideal in the well-mannered Laure. His plans develop a glitch, however, when he makes his usual trip to a Normandy inn run by the aged philosopher Monsieur Ti, who married for the first time at 81. There he meets the delectable free spirit Fanfan, the granddaughter of Monsieur Ti's wife. (Fanfan blithely explains that she embarked on a film career at the tender age of 17 because ``there was an opening. Truffaut had just died.'') Alexandre is drawn to her, but he clings to his earlier desire for monogamy. Finally, he decides that by continuing to see Fanfan but never consummating their relationship, he can have the best of both worlds. He will maintain the tantalizing beginnings of passion with Fanfan while enjoying stability with Laure. Of course, the way he moves between passionate attention and withdrawal confuses Fanfan, and his closeness to another woman disturbs Laure. Alexandre's voice- -expertly translated--earnestly rationalizes his increasingly bizarre behavior. An original and clever US debut with one million copies sold in France.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-312-10981-4
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1994