A mild meditation on art and relationships by the author of Little Known Facts (2013).
A talented painter, Jayne Marks lacks the confidence to pursue her art and has instead been slogging through two unfulfilling jobs in the years since college to pay rent on her crappy Manhattan apartment, prompting the question: why not move to an outer borough like all the other young people and artists? She seems resigned to her fate until she starts a romance with Laurent Moller, an older French man and the successful owner of art galleries in Paris and New York, who, after dating Jayne for five months, invites her to move to Paris to be his live-in girlfriend and benefactee. She accepts. Paris, of course, presents a host of social hurdles in the form of Laurent’s lecherous business partner, his judgmental ex-wife, and his chilly grown daughter. Jayne is insecure and wishy-washy about all her relationships and confused about Laurent’s insistence that they retain privacy about what they're doing when they're not together. Is that where her own infidelity starts, or is it her natural reluctance to say what she wants, combined with the small flame she keeps burning for an ex? Laurent, in a passage written from his perspective, adds gusto to the proceedings but not much in the way of illumination. Bigger questions about being kept, mixing business and pleasure, and the creative process go mostly unexamined. Oft-mentioned details that should add depth to the characters—that Laurent’s family is in the wine business or that Jayne spent time in Washington D.C., before moving to New York—have little apparent importance to their personalities or lives.
Sneed should be applauded for not diving headlong into salaciousness, which her subject matter could invite. But her touch is so light that the issues at stake feel inconsequential.