THE WHITE HORSE INN by Georges Simenon

THE WHITE HORSE INN

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A new translation of a tiny 1938 novel that brings together familiar Simenon themes--stifled marital tension, middle-aged lust, middle-class family pride, working-class misery--in a slightly surreal web of scenes at a busy country inn. The Arbelet family--papa, mama, two young sons--stops in at the White Horse Inn on one of their wearisome Sunday hikes. . . and discovers with horror that Mme. Arbelet's uncle Felix is the night porter there: a bitter, foul, decaying old man with guilty memories of a fellow soldier's long-ago suicide, he stumbles about the place behaving disgustingly (deliberately) and muttering ""I'll have to kill one"" about everyone and everything. And while papa Arbelet attempts to talk to the old man (with hopes of putting him in a home and ending this embarrassment), the good husband eyes a young maid lustfully--and is accidentally k.o.-ed by a bottle thrown by a kitchen wench's drunken husband. Meanwhile, however, more active lust is going on between the inn's proprietor and the helpless staff--while the proprietor's wife looks on with assumed indifference. If all this seems to be leading up to an explosion, there is indeed some tumult when old Felix has a malarial fit and starts firing a pistol. But, by novel's end, all has returned to the ever-uneasy, tensely wearying status quo. Very subtle and somewhat oblique work from a minor master of pessimism; well worth having in this workmanlike, though slightly uneven, new translation.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1980
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich