A FLEETING SORROW by Françoise Sagan


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 A slim, shallow, uncompelling day in the life of a rogue who's told that he has six months to live, by the prolific French author (A Reluctant Hero, 1987, etc.). First thing in the morning, Paul Cazavel learns that he has advanced lung cancer and won't make it another half a year. This 39-year-old ``prototype of the mediocre Frenchman''an arrogant, childlike man, a passable architect mired in a loveless marriage, with a young bimbo mistress on the sidestill obsesses about the only happy relationship he's ever had, an affair that ended ten years before when the woman threw him over. After the black news, Paul travels across town to tell his best friend, Robert, the horrible tidings. Robert, like Paul, is a callow sort too caught up with his own business to pay attention to Paul's crisis. Next we meet the mistress, a blubbering idiot; then we get to wallow in Paul's highly unoriginal thoughts of death. After this self-pity party, the doomed man looks up his one true lovea perpetual nurturer who comforts him but who's also long since moved on and is happily in love. Still, feeling slightly better, Paul finally goes home to face his frigid wife. When told of his cancer, she relishes the idea of holding something over him, and Paul again feels more alone than ever. Now, with nowhere to go in this threadbare plot, Sagan throws in a quick, ridiculous twist ending that leaves the reader feeling cheated and mocked. No advancement of ideas, barely sketched characters that are uniformly egotistical, and a one-idea plot: a novel less fleeting than immediately forgettable.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-55970-308-3
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Arcade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1995