THE BELLS OF BICETRE by Simenon

THE BELLS OF BICETRE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

ene Maugras awakens to the bells of the title. He cannot speak or move. ne of his oldest friends, a foremost physician, stands next to his bed and assures im that ""hemiplegia"" need not be fatal; that his speech and motor centers will respond to therapy; that he must cooperate and relax. Maugras, in his early 50's, has never been noted for sensitivity or introspection. A tough, demanding editor of a newspaper as well as a string of magazines, he had bullied his way to the top from the humblest of beginnings. His enforced idleness and weakness allow time for reminiscence and self-examination. Two marriages, a bungled parenthood and ambitious career are reviewed in trailing vignettes. His flashes of insight tartle him almost as much as his gradual recovery. From the safety and isolation of hospital routine, and from his experience of total dependence on nurses and doctors, he sees himself, his family and his friends with the clarity of the bells listens for. He'd almost like to keep it that way. Once again his body betrays -- this time into strength. The outer world begins to invade his inner hospital world. The question of what the memory of near death will mean is left open. huffled and dealt out by the master mechanic of the short novel, the steady Simenon admirer will recognize the circumstances of two novels ago, A New Lease on Life (p. 451, 1963) without objecting to the similarity.

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World