Camille Laurens’ novel “In those arms” appeared in the original version (French) 17 years ago. Although it is written by a French writer, we discovered it quite recently thanks to polish publishing house: Drzewo Babel. It wasn’t for the title, neither for the cover (although we love Michal Batory’s works) and neither for the author that we paid attention to it. What’s really intrigued us was the description of the book talking about men.
“This is going to be a book about men, about men’s love: these beloved objects, loving subjects, will be the object and subject of the book. “
“Men listen to the radio much louder than we do… slam doors… don’t close cupboards… don’t know where the saucepans, plates and oyster forks are kept… think they’re lacking in faults… sit with their legs splayed… hate umbrellas, even when it’s raining…”.
However, the book can be considered as an autobiography of the author. She writes about relationships with men who have appeared in her life – from father to husband, even lover or some random passer-by. Short chapters about each of those guys are interrupted by chronicles of her encounters with a psychoanalyst she’s met one day on the street and wanted to know more about him. With him she shares the details of each relationship she’s had with a man. She tells him about her fulfilled passions. But also she is trying to seduce him during their weekly meetings.
The novel draws the portraits of different kind of man, from the cruel one, cheating bastard to a loving soulmate. But the book is primarily a picture of a woman, a bit nymphomaniac, seducer who also cheats and hunts for men. She is in the same time wife, lover and… mother.
This will absorb you completely, but you shouldn’t read it too fast! You should enjoy every sentence and unusual forms in order to not miss the extremely simple, but characteristic image of the grandfather. Described only in twelve sentences. The author needed only this much to perfectly describe this one of many men in her life. And just like this, word after word, sentence after sentence, she builds the silhouette of the others.
This book will definitely appeal to women. Each of us could write about guys. But not everyone knows how. Camille Laurens does the job. And she does it perfectly. And men? They will read it out of curiosity, just to find out what a french woman thinks about them. How a woman looks at them?