STRIPTEASE by Georges Simenon


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First published in 1958, this is a story of the day-to-day lives of performers at the Monico--a striptease nightclub in Cannes--seen mostly through the eyes of Celita, whose professional dance training raises her a notch above her co-workers. Celita is improvident, impulsive, and sometimes spiteful, with 32 years of hard luck behind her, much of it brought on by her own waywardness and malice. Her most recent ambition is to win Leon Tourmaire, the club's owner, from his wife Florence, the club's cashier and staff manager. Their affair has lasted some months, and Celita thinks she may be reaching her goal--until the appearance of young Maud Leroy, who puts a different spin on her striptease act and whose naive, shy, and helpless presence--feigned or real--has Leon acting like a young man in love for the first time. In the meantime, Celita and Florence form an unspoken alliance against the intruder; but when Florence falls ill and dies after an operation, Celita is unable to command the strength to commit the melodramatic act she envisions--and ends as she'd always feared she would. The author treats his underclass subjects with respect and uncensorious understanding, shedding light but not judgment on their stupidities and frailties, their bleak beginnings and bleaker tomorrows. Narrated in unembellished matter-of-fact but lively style, a timeless, thoughtful, and absorbing read.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich