"This intense, intimate portrait of an obsessive bourgeois marriage is a compulsive, daring, outrageously brilliant read — domestic unease has never been dissected with such sharp style."
Intense and suspenseful, Maud Ventura’s My Husband is a thrilling triumph of French fiction. Incredibly taut, it presents an electrifying character portrait of a meticulosity manicured wife over the course of a week, during which time we witness her obsession with her husband mount to an utterly compulsive climax. I adored it.
“I like starting points. When everyone is in their rightful place in a world that makes sense.” So declares the wife as this novel opens on a Monday, her favourite day of the week. An English teacher and translator, with a perfectly-styled Grace Kelly hair-do, she’s meticulous in nature and appearance. A woman who yearns to be a femme fatale. A woman whose life revolves around her husband to obsessive extremes.
She’s also the mother of two children, but feels no maternal instinct, and dislikes the effect her son and daughter have had on her marital relationship: “Miserable and powerless, I witness the transformation of our couple into a family.” Desperate to maintain her vision of a perfect marriage, her entire life revolves around meeting her husband’s needs — preparing for her husband’s return from work, always waiting. Self-aware in the extreme, she refers to a line from Marguerite Duras’ The Lover that’s lingered long in her mind: “I’ve never done anything but wait outside the closed door.”
Angered when her husband likens her to a clementine as part of a dinner party game (this gem is also wryly funny), she records his errors and plants traps to test how much he loves her. As her insular rage mounts, as jealousy and suspicion swell, she inflicts secret punishments and commits a vengeful act of passion.
Remarkably, her obsessiveness escalates through the course of the week, with revelatory disclosures plotted with razor-sharp precision. With an exquisitely surprising epilogue from the husband’s perspective, My Husband shudders with passion, obsession and incredible style