The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain (Gallic)

“The taxi had dropped her on the corner of the boulevard.”

This is very filmable – a French comedy of manners, of mores, of missing identities. A screen version might skip the rich literary (French) references but the compensation of seeing a young Catherine Deneuve style actress playing the heroine opposite say a Jean-Paul Belmondo would compensate.

A bookseller Laurent finds a handbag discarded on the street and sets out to track down its owner. His only clues are the contents in the bag, which slowly start to entice and captivate him. The bag itself assumes mythical status. “A transgression. For a man should never go through a woman’s handbag – even the most remote tribe would adhere to that ancestral rule…”

The images are sexualised. “He gently pulled the zip all the way. The bag gave off an odour of warm leather and women’s perfume.”

And further as we go there are the cats, one of which is called Belphegor, after the demon who seduces by guiding people to discoveries, there is the powerful mistress, the precocious instinctual daughter and even a bit part for Patrick Modiano, another expert in the novella of missing identities that underwrites the very modern themes of the philosophy of identity and dual realities bound around an unlikely crush. It zips along quickly with sharp dialogue and spry humour. And it must be the first book to hinge on the elongated moment of Modiano deciding whether or not to insert a comma in his text…by way of climax. Great fun.

About drewsmith28

Words, words, words...
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