The Foundling by Agnes Desarthe

The Foundling

Agnes Desarthe

Unsettling perhaps in a strange, philosophical French sort of way, but my, I really loved it! Jerome is 56, divorced with a 17 year old daughter whose boyfriend has just been killed in a motorbike accident. Emotions run rampant, nightmares from The Second World War surface; odd things happen and quirky people appear in Jerome´s life to turn it upside-down. A moving and lyrically bewitching novel with twists that kept me reading frantically.

Extract

The whole question of instincts is the only one he keeps asking. He hasn't learnt to live the way other people do, by talking, and thinking. Something in his body is triggered before his brain has a chance to intervene. He is surprised, yet again, to find himself envying animals their silence, their fatalism. Eating, being eaten, giving life, losing it. Animals swish through life, following a trajectory, never hesitating, never giving up, never changing their minds. They don´t even know crossroads exist, but are propelled like arrows from the divine bow, with only one mission: to complete the perfect arc, from birth to death, to teem from nothingness back to nothingness, gracefully and weightlessly. By comparison, human destinies strike him as so tortuous, so clumsy, heavy and compromised.

Parallels
  • Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe
  • Telling Lies: A Novel by Sophie Marceau