9 July 2015

Frédéric Beigbeder: L'Amour dure trois ans | Love Lasts Three Years (1997)

Frédéric Beigbeder's L'Amour dure trois ans (translated word for word as Love Lasts Three Years and his third novel), is evidently partly autobiographical, but perhaps more humorous than anything else. The narrator is the protagonist Marc Marronnier, who morphs into Frédéric Beigbeder at the end. Marc has been married to Anne, but they divorce after three years because, well, love only lasts that long, but Anne has also found a photo of Marc's lover Alice in his bag just before they're due to go to Rio: this spells the end.

The break-up also serves to underline the title, which Marc repeats a number of times and even invents a rule:

'The first year you say: "If you leave me I'll KILL myself."

The second year you say: "If you leave me I'll suffer but I'll get over it."

The third year you say: "If you leave me I'll crack open the champagne."'

Much of L'Amour dure trois ans is filled with little sayings such as the above, writing off the shock of being spurned, the horror of loneliness: 'Marriage is caviar with every meal: an indigestion you adore until it sickens you', 'marriage is criminal because it kills mystery', and he remembers a joke a friend tells that the difference between love and herpes is that herpes is forever.

But all this is of course just sour grapes: Anne has dumped him, and Alice can't seem to make up her mind about staying with her husband Antoine and having surreptitious sex with Marc in hotels, leaving her husband for him definitively, or just dumping Marc as Anne has. And Marc, now convinced that Alice is his real true love (well, for three years anyway) suffers deeply, and the self-derision so characteristic of Beigbeder's work continues.

Not, though, that the narrator reserves all the brickbats for himself and his women. There is a wonderful stab at the rich:

'There it is, the spectacle of our society: even the rich no longer make us envious. They are fat, ugly and vulgar, their wives have had facelifts, they go to prison, their children take drugs, they have the culture of hicks, they pose for Gala'. (This is a royalist celebrity magazine of the kind that you find at supermarket checkouts.)

Alice does leave Antoine for Marc, and the brief second part of the novel is set in Formentera three years later, when Marc is writing an autobiographical novel: the sections of this part count down the last days to the supposed three-year limit.

This is a big improvement on his first novel.

My other Beigbeder posts:

Frédéric Beigbeder: Mémoires d'un Jeune Homme Dérangé
Frédéric Beigbeder: 99 Francs
Frédéric Beigbeder: Un roman français
Frédéric Beigbeder: Premier bilan après l'apocalypse
Frédéric Beigbeder: Vacances dans le coma

No comments: