ESPERIE by Frederic Bradlee


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Esperie is an artsy-quaintsy little first novel which you will either find irritating or ingratiating: we found it barely possible to conceive of the latter while indulging the former. It is by an actor who has worked with alcoholics and about a young actor who is an alcoholic and the years he spends living in the pension (New York) of Esperie who re-minds him of his Granny (""a beguiling radiant creature I adored""). Esperle talks French on every page and promises her Stephen la vie boheme where he will feel very ches vous and if you speak French you will realize that her name is just one of the author's small witticisms. Well, there she is, that lovely little old lady who acts as a ""mere supericure"" to a group of derelicts, an Austrian Count, a one-eyed bartender, a British games-mistress type, and other shabby misfits whom la Esperie takes into her home and heart. Oh yes, there's a message about loving and letting go tucked in, as well as Stephen's protracted affair with a girl in between sips of sherry and shots of booze. The style itself reflects the latter dichotomy: some of it lapses into archaic fatuities (""she quaffed the wine of their adulation"") while also being dreadfully modern with four-letter-word-sophistication. It's somehow as if Mr. Bradlee never made the transition from old Boston to the new Bohemia and it's all tres fey, n'est-ce-pas?

Pub Date: May 8th, 1967
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin