THE STILL STORM by Francoise Sagan


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A slight but entertaining historical romance set in an 1830's France still reeling from revolution, by the prolific author of Bonjour Tristesse and With Fondest Regards. Sagan has been at her most successful exploring contemporary mores; in this period piece about the tragic love between an artistocrat and a peasant, she takes a look at how far the Revolution's slogan of equality extended--not far, as it turns out. Flora de Margelasse, a widowed countess of 30 or so, returns to Aquitaine to live in her ancestral chateau; young Gildas Caussinade, with so flowery a name for the son of a tenant farmer, woos her with poetry. Our narrator is spinsterish Nicholas Lomont, town notary, in love with Flora. But she chooses Gildas, and the lovers go off to Paris, where Gildas is soon knighted by the king for his poetry. When they return, the rest is ""marked. . .by blood and tears, blows and embraces and screams. . .will turn to ominous purples the pale blue skies of that summer and the gold-tinted houses and the dense pure greenness of the rivers. . ."" The couple brings with them a sullen, randomly promiscuous chambermaid whom Nicholas discovers in flagrante with Gildas in a shed. When Flora finds out, she goes mad; Gildas kills himself. Years later, Nicholas sees the chambermaid on a barrier in the streets of Paris--she is Revolution, personified. Despite all this heavy action and language, the novel, with its superficial characterizations, feels like fluff--why is Sagan trying to outdo the 19th-century writers? If one wants to be shocked by sexual escapades, one would still get more from Maupassant.

Pub Date: April 4th, 1986
Publisher: Dutton