Le jeune homme — Annie Ernaux

I couldn’t resist a little light book shopping at the Gare de Lyon, especially when I spotted the latest Annie Ernaux. In Le jeune homme, she reflects on a relationship she had in her fifties with a man almost 30 years younger.

Ernaux has a striking ability to write about her personal life in a way that is both matter of fact and intimate. She describes noticing other people’s reactions (which an older man and younger woman wouldn’t encounter), but ultimately feeling liberated by the relationship.

At the end, Ernaux explains that she was writing her memoir about her illegal abortion at the same time of this relationship. I’m fascinated to know — she doesn’t say — if she started writing it after they got together. The man lives in Rouen, where she went to university, and she describes how the experience brings back memories of that time.

A beautiful and assertive read.

9/10

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