I received tons of french books from my lovely mother for xmas and the first i read was this one: L’amour et les forêts, by Eric Reinhardt. I choose to read this book first because of the title, that I found poetical. I read the book in 2 evenings, so good it was. I was sceptical at first: the 20 first pages were boring, long descriptions that were not getting anywhere and suddently, POUF the story began and I couldn’t stop reading.
This is a book about the destructive relationships, self-esteem, moral torture, pride and above all, a story of today, thousands of women fighting in silence to survive within a golden cage. The main character, Bénédicte, lives a life in the shadow of a strong and bad man, and the story is all about her way to make it look normal. The story seems easy at the beginning but it grows harder and harder, making the book hard to lay down, you just have to finish it and know how it went.
I liked very much the writing as well: this book seemed almost modern, with meetic, sms and internet but I think that this feeling will dissapear in 2 years. It was a real step toward modernity though that Eric Reinhardt made in this book, when you compare to other french litterature from 2000 and now: when I read them, I often feel like they were written in the 90’s and this is boring. It seems that litterature is too pretty to be willing to be modern. It often doesn’t describe how it is for real, but keep on thinking that people still use phone attached on the wall to communicate. I liked L’amour et les forêts a lot for this try of getting more modern.
The langage as well was modern, even if I disliked the fact that the author wrote the “young” words in italic. I don’t know if it was an help for older readers or what, but it was unnecessary to me.
At the end of my reading, I was happy to have read this good book, talking about a difficult topic without any taboo but I also felt sad for all these women living this kind of life.
The topic of this book reminds me of the podcast I listened to the other day, from Les Pieds sur Terre called Allo Ménie! -I listen to tons of podcasts and I wrote about it the other day, if you want some inspiration yourself- Allo, Ménie was a radio program, sent between 1967 and 1982 when people could anonymously write or call to ask questions, often about relationships and sexuality to Ménie Grégoire, who was the program leader. I had never heard that program live, since it stopped the year I was born. In the podcast, they just introduce what the program was about and they just play extracts from it, without commentating any of it. When I began the listening, I thought “oh, cool that there was a program to talk about sexuality and stuff, so early” but then, I changed my mind.
In a couple of extracts, women call and ask questions, where they often are kind of victims, and don’t know how to say no to their husband in a proper way. This is often about getting pregnant all the time and not willing to have 10 kids to feed, at this time where the contraceptive pill was not very common. The women calling were mostly talking about men that did not care how they felt when making love, or if they wanted to make love at all.
There is also this woman, talking about how she desires her husband and how he refused to sleep with her at all after they got their 2 children. This woman had so far lived 15 years without any sex with her husband and without being able to talk about it with anyone. The answer that Ménie gave to her was pretty chocking to me. It was, in a short version, “you have a problem with your sexuality and may be a nymphomaniac”. I thought of this poor woman, who was trying to make everything work, called the program to get any help and instead, she got a ton of debts, and the advice to go to the psychologist to cure her mental trouble. I mean, isn’t it normal to get love by her husband, when you are married?
In the podcast, you hear just a few parts of 15 years of program, but these few parts let me think that I would have switched the radio off, if I had been an adult at this time. The answers the “specialists” gave to these women were so conservative, degradating and so on.
Anyway, read this book, L’amour et les forêts, by Eric Reinhardt, it gets a 4,5 of 5!