If you like your humour dark and fuelled by a savage turn of phrase, this short book will most likely suit your needs perfectly.
In this short novel Pascal Garnier turns his attentions to the elderly and those who are acquainted with his style realise that nothing good can come of Martial and Odette Sudre move to a gated retirement village.
Odette is keen on the idea of living a life-like being on holiday each day of the year whereas Martial is a little more circumspect
All those years spent doggedly accumulating a thousand little habits from which to spin a cosy cocoon of existence on first-name terms with the newsagent, butcher and baker, going to the market on Saturday morning and taking the Sunday stroll up to Mont Valerien… Then one by one, their neighbours had retired to the Loire valley, Brittany, Cannnes… or the cemetery.
But as Odette becomes seduced by talk of a clubhouse and a pool the pair move in. The pair were the first of the residents to move into the village and the winter months was a bit of a lonely one as well as a time to acclimatise.
For the moment, it was closed, and they had not yet met nor even caught sight of the social secretary. Not that Martial was overly concerned. In fact, he was somewhat dreading the opening of the clubhouse. He had no desire to take part in pancake-tossing competitions with people he did not know.
I liked Martial!
After a long winter with Odette buying items for the new house and cooking culinary surprises they are keen to form a welcoming committee when a new couple move in; Maxime and Marlene Node, finally instead of imagining the new neighbours they could meet them for real! Perhaps mindful of the dreary winter they soon share food, drink and outings together. And then a new single woman is rumoured to be moving into the complex and Maxime for one is keen to impress.
Maxime was striking toreador poses. Chest puffed out, belly sucked in, fists clenched beside his hips, he held his breath for long enough to tell himself he still looked pretty good for a man his age. As his muscles relaxed, the skin sagged on his hunched skeleton like an oversized garment. He shrugged his shoulders and began to shave.
Léa moves in, and her new inquisitive neighbours show up on her doorstep as soon as the removal men left keen to see how their new neighbour would fit into the community. With savage humour Garnier exposes each of the characters for the shallow beings they are, have always been, the difference being, in real life there are distractions from yourself, in a gated community with a scarcity of people, the owners of these shallow characteristics become more aware of them, as well as being irritated by those of others.
A thoroughly enjoyable look at snobbery and aging while you can’t fail to miss the underlying suspense, the feeling that something awful is about to befall these poor misguided folk. To find out what that is, you’ll have to read the book for yourself!
I am very grateful to the publishers Gallic Books who gave me a copy of this book which I exchange for this, my honest opinion and have to praise the skill of the translator, Emily Boyce, who made me forget that it wasn’t originally written in English.
Other Books I’ve Read by Pascal Garnier