Saturday, 28 December 2019

The Misunderstanding

Finished December 19
The Misunderstanding by Irene Nemirovsky, translated by Sandra Smith

This short novel was the first one Nemirovsky published and to me it felt very much of its time. I didn't like any of the characters.
This is a story of a romance between a young man, hero of the First World War, whose family fortunes disappeared after the war, forcing him to work in an office, and a young woman, married to a successful entrepreneur, who was a friend of the other young man in the war, now with a young daughter. The young family meets the man at a holiday seaside resort. The married young man stays only a brief time before going off on business, but the other young man has saved his whole year to savour this one reminiscent experience of his life before the war.
He begins to spend time with the woman and her daughter, gradually seducing her as he does so.
Back in Paris, in everyday life, he is not as free with his time, and the relationship is altered, with neither party satisfied with the result.
There were several things that bothered me about the characters and circumstances, and all I think related to the book being of its time. One was the young man's self-centeredness. He didn't like having to work, didn't like the fact that he had less money than his lover, didn't like being reminded of that fact by her taste and preferences, and was just generally unhappy with his lot in life and taking it out on her. She was too selfless in her passion for him, and inconsiderate of the faithful and successful man she had married, and of her child. Even when she takes advice from his mother, it is about pretending not to care as much and letting him dictate the ways of the relationship. Definitely not my favourite book by this author.
It is however an interesting character study, and that made it worth the read. 

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