22 September 2017

Ariane Chemin: Mariage en douce (2016)

Ariane Chemin works for Le Monde, and this book involves the secret marriage of diplomat and (amusingly fraudulent) two-times winning Goncourt, the chameleon Romain Gary, man of a number of names, to Jean Seberg, the deeply disturbed female actor most famous for her role in Godard's hugely popular À bout de souffle (Breathless in English).

The heavily-cropped photo on the cover shows the happy couple looking perhaps not all that happy: the tiny village Sarrola in Corsica was chosen for the occasion – and the mountains can clearly be seen in the background – because they (and Gary especially) wanted to avoid a media circus at all costs.

However, this book is also a summary of the lives of Gary and Seberg, Gary the Vilnius-born possessor of many names, Seberg the small-town, Marshalltown, Iowa-born movie star. I loved the information about them visiting the Kennedys, and Jackie Onassis telling Jean Seberg (aside) not to get married as it ruins things. De Gaulle and his wife would certainly have objected, but then De Gaulle and America...

Jean Seberg went on to marry twice after her marriage to Gary (although her final marriage was bigamous) before killing herself 30 August 1979. Gary put a gun to his mouth on 2 December 1980, leaving a note that his suicide had nothing to do with Seberg. Really, nothing at all?

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