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Someone I Loved (Je l'aimais) (English and French Edition) Paperback – April 5, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-1594480416 ISBN-10: 1594480419 Edition: Bilingual

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Paperback, April 5, 2005
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 325 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade; Bilingual edition (April 5, 2005)
  • Language: English, French
  • ISBN-10: 1594480419
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594480416
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,111,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Anna Gavalda's Someone I Loved is a hauntingly intimate look at the intolerably painful, yet occasionally valuable consequences that adultery can have on a marriage and the individuals involved. Readers familiar with I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere, Gavalda's stunning collection of short stories, will once again be charmed by her deceptively simple prose, while new fans will quickly fall under the spell of this enchanting literary voice.

Once he discovers that his son Adrien has left his wife Chloe, along with their two adorable daughters, the normally removed Pierre Dippel steps in to rescue the girls, driving them from Paris to his rustic country house for some much needed rest and reflection. While the girls watch cartoons and run around in "You're a Barbie Girl" sneakers, Chloe and Pierre discover a bond they never knew existed. As Chloe comes to terms with her abandonment, Pierre confesses his own adulterous affair, years earlier, with a translator living in Hong Kong. In the shadow of the story is Suzanne, Pierre's status-conscious wife who pardoned his actions in order to live a socially-acceptable life. As the days go on and the hours get later, it becomes apparent that Pierre is filled with regret over losing the one woman he ever truly loved ("Every day you have to fight a bit. A little bit each day, with the courage to be yourself, to decide to be happ--..."), while Chloe is forced to confront the raw anger she feels over losing the life she had grown to love.

Short in length, yet long in substance, Someone I Loved ends like most great love affairs, forever leaving you wanting just one more moment. --Gisele Toueg

From Publishers Weekly

Gavalda's slim second novel, published here in back-to-back English and French versions, tells a spare, dialogue-based tale of a young, abandoned wife. Chloé, mother of two, is in shock after her husband, Adrien, leaves her for another woman. In an improbable move, her laconic father-in-law, Pierre, rescues her, driving Chloé and her daughters to his country house, where they spend a few surprisingly therapeutic days together. While in the country, Pierre gives Chloé an extended account of an extramarital affair of his own. His dalliance was based on real love, and this, ironically, comforts Chloé. Gavalda's prose style is refreshingly elliptical, though often the reader longs for more than a scrap of exposition. At the book's best moments, mundane details mingle with Chloé's despair to create an even deeper sadness: while cooking dinner with Pierre, Chloé reflects, "I cried, thinking occasionally about how the spaghetti was going to be inedible if I didn't add some oil." But Gavalda's prose can also lurch clumsily between triteness and sarcasm: "Go to the ends of the earth, clamber over thickets, hedges, ditches, get a stuffy nose, cross old Marcel's courtyard, and watch Teletoons while eating strawberry-flavored marshmallows. Sometimes, life is wonderful...." Such awkward pathos weighs down Gavalda's airy tale. (Apr. 5)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
I have finished a second book by her and am reading a third.
Anna Uriburu
I was mesmerized by the poetry of words and the depth of feelings expressed through a simple dialogue.
Maybe I'm just too prudish to appreciate such fine literature, but I don't think so.
John M. Glotzer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Nathaniel Horn on May 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
What a wonderful, piercing book. It is basically a conversation between the daughter-in-law and her father-in-law, first starting with the pain she is experiencing from the betrayal of his son. Then he unexpectedly begins to open up, revealing a most astonishing relationship that he had in his younger years. It is all the more startling because the author used the "Old Bastard" as the vehicle for this beautiful tale. There are many cautionary lessons in the narrative but, in the end, it was the emotional impact that I was left with. Very creative. Gavalda, a French woman, has such a lovely way of imbuing men with undeserved humanity. It turned out to be different than I expected. I don't think that I'll ever again mutter under my breath "Damned French". It was short. When I got half way through it, it started over again, in French! It was hard to get into at first, then it caught on. If I had not luckily first read the flaps I would not have even understood the context of the narrative. It moved me deeply. By the time I finished it I was in disarray and all choked up. I am anxiously looking forward to reading her other novels.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bearette24 VINE VOICE on June 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is the story of a woman who's just been abandoned by her husband, and you think it will be about that betrayal, but no. She ends up taking a trip with her father-in-law and her own daughter (who is young, and only appears once or twice) and they have a long, fascinating conversation about all the father-in-law's buried emotion for a woman he fell in love with while he was married to someone else.

The book is mostly dialogue, without tags, which sometimes bothers me, but didn't here. I loved Gavalda's short story collection, "I Wish Someone Were Waiting For Me Somewhere," and this novel displays the same gifts. She cuts to the emotional heart of the matter without sentimentality, and paints beautiful word-pictures.

That said, I thought the book ended on a flat note. After thinking about it, I knew what Gavalda was trying to express, but it just wasn't satisfying. It didn't resolve anything and it didn't make as vivid an impression as the other images and emotions in the book.

Still, it is worth reading, especially if you liked her short-story collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James W. Fonseca on August 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
In this French translation, a young wife has just found out that her husband has packed his bags and left her and their two daughters for another woman. Shocked, she travels with her (soon-to-be-ex) father-in-law to a family vacation cabin to recover. The father-in-law has always been stern, judgmental and non-communicative to her. At the cabin we hear a wonderful love story but it's not the one we would have expected.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Miklos C. Kiss on December 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
I liked the way this book explored the motiviations, consequences, and aftermath of puruing or not pursuing romantic love. Like all French thinkers on the subject, the effects on the children are glossed over in the selfishness of pursuing personal fullfillment of romantic desires. Yes, there is some courage to pursuing romantic love and ditching your family, however why can't people wait until the kids are grown?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bluestalking Reader VINE VOICE on February 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
"Every thought drew me closer to the bottom. I was so tired. I shut my eyes. I dreamed that he had arrived. There was the sound of the engine in the courtyard, he sat down next to me, he kissed me and put his finger on my lips in order to surprise the girls. I can still feel his tenderness on my neck, his voice, his warmth, the smell of his skin, it's all there.

It's all there...

All I have to do is think about it...

How long does it take to forget the odor of someone who loved you? How long until you stop loving?

If only someone would give me an hourglass."

- from Someone I Loved

Anna Gavalda is one of those fantastic writers no one seems to know about. Maybe that's because not all her novels are translated from her native French into English. But in France she's certainly well-known.

Her short novel Someone I Loved is poetic, gorgeous, all those words of praise reviewers use, yet also a bit unexpected, with a surprising revelation that adds so much to the plot. The novel is of course heart-wrenching, something the French do well.

Main character Chloë and her two little children go to stay with her father-in-law after Chloë's husband walks out on her for another woman. At first seeming like a strike out of the blue, in hindsight Chloë sees all the clues were there: the late nights at the office, the vacancy and pained looks on his face, the withdrawal, etc.

Presuming his distant attitude and quick anger, Chloë had never been comfortable with her father-in-law, and it isn't clear why, exactly, she's gone to live with him rather than someone in her own family. Perhaps it was because he was the closest link to Adrien, her estranged husband. But as the days go by he begins to open up, sharing his own life story with Chloë, in an effort to prove to her she can survive this, and can go on, for the sake of her daughters.

The result, a resoundingly beautiful novel.
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