What have become of our friends?
Grasset, 224 p., € 18
Antoine Sénanque draws novel after novel – this is the eighth (1) – the contours of a region that we survey each time with delight, happy to find an atmosphere, places, characters – often disenchanted and melancholy – whose names resonate from one story to another. A style too, flirting with caustic irony and a sense of turn that hits the bull’s eye. And a recurring theme, that of friendship, which is essential here again, and which the title and the quotation of the poet Rutebeuf placed in emphasis emphasizes: “What have become of our friends who have become so closely held and loved so much …”
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Between Pierre Mourange, director of a retirement home in Gouvieux, in the Paris region, and Camille Fusain, a blank page writer, the relationship is old, powerful and litigated that they try to clear up with overly full glasses of cognac during endless nights. Camille quickly appears as the loved but bulky double of Pierre, on point to blur the boundaries of their respective lives. Camille who has captured the love of Mathilde, Pierre’s daughter, Camille who draws her inspiration from Pierre’s life, very fertile ground. His first and for the moment only work, it is to Pierre that he owes it, to his life before when he was a doctor and that a fault of diagnosis sent ad patres a young patient. Since then, nothing. But Pierre has not said his last word …
Hero gravitating in the medical sphere
At the start of the novel, he is accused of the murder of Doctor Petit-Jean with whom he is undergoing family therapy, his wife from whom he is separated and his daughter who seems to no longer love him completing this vacillating trio. His fingerprints were found on the abandoned revolver in the psychiatrist’s office. The investigation led with pugnacity by the inspector Guise, embittered by an ulcer, will cross a series of characters who mark out the winding road of the existence of Pierre. Some colorful people, such as the owls, Nikolas and Boisvieux, two residents of the Ehpad who are as social as they are warriors when it comes to instigating their mentor, even if they are comfortable with legality. Others more discreet but no less essential, like Blanche, his secretary for twenty years, the one who “Had decided that he would be his only love”, an unrequited love.
Former neurologist turned writer under a pseudonym borrowed from the famous Provençal abbey, Antoine Sénanque never really left his white coat – the heroes of his novels almost all gravitate in the medical sphere – when he scrutinizes with all scientific precision but never devoid of tender humanity and keen humor these beings manhandled by an existence which escapes them, their hearts tangled in the nets of complex, loving, filial and friendly relationships. Pierre and Camille are among them. Between them, beyond a certain friendship, an abyss has the name Mathilde, and her cry for help one night, “The night of betrayal”, the title of Camille’s new book… ” At the end of all these hours of turning in itself, [Pierre] had come to the belief that this betrayal was actually the cover of their friendship. “