14 September 2017

Hélène Lenoir: Le Magot de Momm (2001)

Hélène Lenoir's Le Magot de Momm depicts an intensely claustrophic situation from which attempts are made to escape, but fail. Momm is sixty-eight and widowed and lives with her thirty-six-year-old daughter Nann (who is also widowed) and Nann's three daughters: Lili (a sixteen-year-old) and the ten-year-old twins Wanda and Violette. The sexual tension is the house is almost palpable, and there is very little communication between the characters.

In a novel a little short of two hundred pages, not a great deal happens. Rather, Le Magot de Momm is written in a cinematographic style, the narrative concentrating on minute details, dissecting actions and psychologies. Misery seems inherent in this household, and Nann yearns to break free, hopes that her lukewarm lover Vincent will commit himself to her.

Although out of the central picture, that is to say not in the asphyxiating house, the worker Mario, mending the gate, is of great importance as he is a young male, dripping not only sweat but also sensuality: Nann even makes a half-hearted effort to escape from the house with him on his motor-bike, although she soon returns to Vincent and the house.

Dan, Lili's boyfriend, also has a role in the narrative, although only a bit part: he is merely the means by which Lili temporarily escapes (on a puny moped) – having found out that Momm keeps her savings in large denomination francs behind the photos in her bedroom. But Dan, very drunk, turns into a monster and Lili has to flee from her dream, falls into the hands of the police and is inevitably taken back to the house, where Momm has discovered that her nest-egg is missing and thinks it's Mario's doing. A very readable book indeed.

My Hélène Lenoir posts:
Hélène Lenoir: Entracte
Hélène Lenoir: Son nom d'avant
Hélène Lenoir: Le Magot de Momm

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