19 April 2021

Violaine Bérot: Pas moins que lui (2013)

 I was fortunate enough to buy this almost unread  and signed copy of Violaine Bérot's Pas moins que lui, the dedication of which reads: 'Cette histoire de corps vieillissant, d'absence et d'amour. 20 ans plus tard..' ('This tale of an ageing body, absence of love. 20 years later...')

Violaine Bérot specialises in unbelievable pain, family ties, etc. She lives in the Pyrenees where she was born. Her books are short, but then why should a book be long unless it's necessary? Pas moins que lui, in between telling an age-old story, is feminist in that it concentrates on the female version of the story, that which is often neglected in so many books.

We all know Homer's account of Ulysses leaving the small kingdom of Ithaca, where he lived with his queen Penelope and never really knew his son Telemachus who was born just before he was called to fight in the Trojan War. Penelope remained faithful, avoiding her suitors, the parasites of the court eager to take the place of her husband. The years went on, little or nothing was heard of Ulysses, Telemachus goes to look for him, and returns. A tramp returns at the same time, a man who will prove to be Ulysses himself.

Bérot's story is important as this is not a mythological tale that the world knows so well. Rather, this is Homer's story from a female psychological standpoint, of absolute fidelity but of sexual frustration over twenty years of very few believable stories of Penelope's husband's fate, of temptation, of resignation. And then of joy. Sort of.

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