Inspired by parts of his own life and by his stays in Paris, Douglas Kennedy portrays a great love passion without end, spanning almost 40 years, in his new novel, Isabelle, the afternoon. Will the feverish love between Sam, a young American living in Paris, and Isabelle, a slightly older, sophisticated and married woman, stand the test of time?
Sam arrives in Paris in the 1970s. He is destined for higher studies in law and arrives in the City of Light penniless, but curious about everything. In a bookstore on the Left Bank, he meets Isabelle, who gives him an appointment … only in the afternoon.
A torrid, tumultuous affair ensues, which unites the two lovers for a long time, even if their respective marriages, daily life and even an ocean separate them. Sam wants more. But Isabelle is not ready to sacrifice everything for him.
Douglas Kennedy, a francophile American who loves Quebec and the French language, speaks with passion about his new novel and the major issues it addresses. “I lived with a Quebecker. It was my second marriage. We were together for five years. When it all ended in 2016, I started to think about what it is, a couple, ”he says.
Now that he calls himself “vaccinated against marriage,” the bestselling writer assures us that he is not against love, nor against the idea of living with someone … but against marriage. “I lived 25 years with my first wife and the mother of my two children. “
“The horror of everyday life”
He says he was inspired by Madame Bovary, novel by Gustave Flaubert, describing “the horror of everyday life”. “This is often the catch. Among people of my parent’s generation, for example, it was very rare to get divorced. Now, my generation and the following ones, we have the possibility to change our life. “
“Look at the divorce rate: it’s 55% of couples!” He notes. As I recently told my 24 year old daughter, in the midst of a breakup with her boyfriend after three years together, the truth, the intimate life, everyone has hopes that it is like in a novel , until the end. The simple truth is, it’s only a chapter. “
He pursues. “There are chapters that are a hundred pages long, like a short story, and others that are longer or shorter. I also questioned myself about loyalty – that was a big question for me. If someone says to me, I am not concerned with infidelity, I think to myself that it is a liar, or a liar. “
Look for love
These big questions gave birth to this intense novel, in which the author writes a few erotic passages for the first time. “Isabelle is a married woman and the narrator is looking for someone, looking for true love. He thinks at first, “My God, if you make love like that, if you have such passion, it’s total love!” The truth is something else. “
Sam shares his thoughts on life as a couple, on commitment. “It was always my idea to give Sam’s perspective, a man I hope touching. A man who grew up in a cold family and had a father who is not a freak, but a distant man. And a nice, but melancholy mother, locked in her own prison. “
“Sam is really alone when he arrives in Paris. Very intelligent, he also has a great curiosity. He’s looking for someone. With Isabelle, that is not possible. She’s with her husband, who isn’t a monster either. But he is an older man and after a few years the passion waned. ”
- Douglas Kennedy was born in New York in 1955.
- He has written several bestsellers, selling over 14 million copies worldwide and translated into 22 languages.
- We owe him, among other things, the three volumes of The symphony of chance and a test, All those big unanswered questions.
- He spent his summer in Maine.
“ I called her at ten the next day. Rookie mistake: too much haste, too much haste. As the casino roulette wheel spun on the Select phone, I thought: not yet. Not yet. Hold on. Even though she was the one who told me, “Call me tomorrow” when we were apart. Since then, I had spent every minute reliving that late afternoon. Dazzled by my luck, and now worried that I might lose it. “