REVIEW: Adele, Leïla Slimani

Monday, 19 August 2019

Adèle appears to have the perfect life. A respected journalist, she lives in a flawless Parisian apartment with her surgeon husband and their young son. But beneath the veneer of 'having it all', she is bored - and consumed by an insatiable need for sex, whatever the cost. Struggling to contain the twin forces of compulsion and desire, she begins to orchestrate her life around her one night stands and extramarital affairs, arriving late to work and lying to her husband about where she's been, until she becomes ensnared in a trap of her own making.
An erotic and daring story - with electrically clear writing - Adèle will captivate readers with its exploration of addiction, sexuality, and one woman's quest to feel alive.

Adele does not want to be a mother or a wife. She wants to have sex, to be touched, to feel the hands of another on her skin. The labels that she dons so uneasily are simply barriers to this goal; inconvenient things that she has to deal with before her mind can dedicate itself to what really matters - sex. It is a controversial topic for Leïla Slimani to undertake, not unlike the one in her previous novel Lullaby, and she seems to be making a name spending time within the heads of women who must make most men feel ill at ease.
Women who are narcissistic, difficult, outside of the realm of any boxes people may try to put them in.
It is a worthy cause and one that needs to be championed, no matter how uncomfortable that it might make people feel. But unlike within the pages of Lullaby, I can not help but feel as though Leïla Slimani has made some missteps in this one.
Adele does not care about her husband, or her child, or her job. That can not be denied, contested or refuted - she really does not give a single damn. Hell, even the men she sleeps with barely get a footnote in her mind. Her addiction to sex is all-consuming, funnelling the love and affection that she may have previously felt for other people or things, into sex and sex alone.
But, unfortunately, there is something about this that fails to translate onto the page. And yes, I know that the book itself was translated, so maybe my word choice might eventually be proven to be especially apt.
I say this because, the protagonist who so clearly was to supposed to have a singular desire, had no desire at all. She was cold, both to the outside world and the depths of the desire itself. There was no addiction here, no desperation, no fire in her loins. Only a protagonist who one could instead be mistaken for thinking had a personality disorder akin to psychopathy.
At least, that is what I kept referring to good ol’Mr Google to check.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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