Sunday, 13 June 2010

The Idea of Love by Louise Dean


DATE READ: May 2010

NOTES: I very much enjoyed Louise Dean’s This Human Season so was looking forward to this book. The Idea of Love is a much more complex book and not at all what I expected. I thought it was going to be about prosperous Brits settling down to an idyllic life in the French countryside – a sort of Year in Provence (only better written!). But my preconceptions were quite wrong.

Richard has moved to the Var region with his French wife and their son. They make friends with the other local ex-pat crowd but have little contact with locals – except for Valerie’s parents who loom large throughout the narrative. The story has many dark undertones – everyone is seeking happiness and love but things go awry through jealousy, disloyalty or selfishness. Things are not helped by the challenging behaviour of their son Maxence who seems to be very disturbed.

Richard works for a large pharmaceuticals firm and he goes to Africa specifically to persuade doctors there to use anti-depressants. He gradually realises that these powerful and expensive drugs are not really necessary in African culture but are being pushed as a means of gaining profits for his company. Their neighbours also visit Africa to try to adopt a child but soon become disillusioned as they realise that the “orphanages” they visit are not what they seem. (I thought that the African sections of the book were the best parts.)

There is a lot packed into 300 pages – a compelling read.

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