Monday, July 18, 2011

Paris in July - Claude Aveline

I'd like to tell you about Claude Aveline but there's not much about him in English. Wikipedia offers this - Claude Aveline, pen name of Evgen Avtsine (19 July 1901 – 4 November 1992), was a writer, publisher, editor, poet and member of the French Resistance. He was friends with director Jean Vigo. One of his works inspired Camus to write The Outsider. He wrote his first mystery novel in 1932, The Double Death of Frederic Belot. I don't seem to be able to find any more and it's been a little hard to get my hands on library copies in English. I'm not sure if what I've read is typical.

I've just finished The Fountain at Marlieux (which I think was written in 1954). The mystery is small and the detective, Inspector Belot, appears only briefly. Yet for all that I liked it. Like many French mysteries, the focus is on character and place. A celebrated Colonel, forced into retirement, returns to the village of his childhood. An old friend is distressed that his daughter has retired to a convent. The question is why? Despite the time of it's writing, the story seems set in a much older age. The setting is lovingly evoked and you'll be transported to a country village. The detecting, such that there is, is based on intuition rather than evidence. People talk and the truth comes out. It is an overwhelmingly sad story. Much of it is about the passing of time - the slipping away of childhood, the fall from grace of a hero, the loss of parents and probably, in a way, the passing of the French Empire with the uprisings in Algiers. There seems to be a far greater influence from literary fiction than English novels of the same period. A sorrowful psychological study.

I'd very much like to read further works by Aveline so will have to see what I can track down.


Anonymous said...

The Dressmaker has been my contribution to Paris in July. Loved it, especially the evocative descriptions.

Curvy Kitty said...

I think you'd like this one. I might see if I can pick up a cheap copy from Excellent for second hand obscurities.