Friday, May 11, 2012

The Woman with the Bouquet by Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt

The Woman with the Bouquet
This classic collection of stories by Schmitt are so reminiscent of great short story writers of the past, e.g., du Maupassant, Poe, Bierce, that one irresistibly turns to see when it was published. Originally called La rêveuse d'Ostende and published in 2007, the stories have the feel of institutions already, for they highlight human motivations and peculiarities no matter what the period of time.

A favorite story, “Perfect Crime,” so completely captures a person’s frustration with their spouse and their ill-thought-out revenge, that one feels this cautionary tale is as sure to stay in one’s memory as long any life lesson personally learned in far more painful fashion.

“The Dreamer from Ostend” was the longest in the collection and felt positively Victorian in its shocking eroticism and the measured revelation of long-buried secrets tightly guarded. It reminds one of the stimulative power of a long, slow strip tease.

The corrupting influences of fiction are addressed in “Trashy Reading,” and one who has ever shivered in fear on a dark and windy night can attest to the force of imagination in keeping us alert and prepared just in case…

Our imagination is also under the microscope in the title story, for when presented with a conundrum we readers will bring to bear our experiences and fears and our deepest emotions in solving the mystery. Schmitt thus shows us how writing the story is only half the show, while reading it--with the attendant imaginative constructions--is at least as important. It is the author acknowledging us readers with a bow that makes us lower our eyes in embarrassment and delight. Kudos right back, Schmitt! This classic collection of stories is sure to delight many.

Paperback, 224 pages. Published August 31st 2010 by Europa Editions Translated from the French by Alison Anderson.(Originally published 2007 by Éditions Albin Michel ISBN 9782226181 original title La rêveuse d'Ostende)

This book counts towards the 2012 Europa Challenge. The Bowed Bookshelf: The Woman with the Bouquet by Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt