Retrato do autor

Anne Serre

Autor(a) de The Governesses

25 Works 245 Membros 7 Críticas 1 Favorited

Obras por Anne Serre

The Governesses (1992) 110 exemplares, 4 críticas
The Fool and Other Moral Tales (2019) 30 exemplares
The Beginners (2011) 19 exemplares, 1 crítica
A Leopard-Skin Hat (2023) 14 exemplares
Petite table, sois mise ! (2012) 10 exemplares, 1 crítica
Les debutants (French Edition) (2011) 8 exemplares
Au cœur d'un été tout en or (2020) 6 exemplares
Un chapeau léopard (2008) 5 exemplares
Voyage avec Vila-Matas (2016) 5 exemplares
Dialogue d'été (2014) 4 exemplares
Le Cheval blanc d'Uffington (2002) 4 exemplares
La petite epee du ceur: Recit (1995) 3 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum

Data de nascimento
Local de nascimento
Bordeaux, France
Locais de residência
Paris, France



A feminist French novella centering on the expression of sexual desire in young women, told with a Calvino-like modern fable quality. Anne Serre doesn't have much of her work (14 novels thus far) translated into English yet, her debut from 1992 here finally introducing her to the English speaking world only in 2018. In a rare English language interview with Serre I found, she says that she writes from her subconscious, which sounds a bit difficult to fathom practically speaking but explains the dreamy fable-like quality and why it was a good thing that her translator here was not only a close friend, but someone who more often translates poetry.

Like dreams, this novella impresses with the feelings it provokes more than with its often spotty plot progression, and its language frequently seems to nail a particular feeling incredibly well. Our governesses, three young women who are practically a single life force, are bold and fearless in taking what pleasure they want, until they fall in love for the first time:
It's at this point that the pangs of suffering sink into their tender flesh for the first time. They ignore them - they're not unpleasant, in fact. The stranger grows ten inches, his hair turns a deeper gold, his flesh tastier, his voice more resonant. They succumb.

In love they cease to possess that marvelous self-assurance that sent them striding through garden, woods and fields, lashing the wayside grass. They mellow. They mellow so much, in fact, that you'd think they were melting.

I've obviously never been a young woman in love for the first time, but I feel this.

Or this description of a dead marriage, between the parents of the house the governesses enliven:

Neither could imagine living without the other. They preferred to go on lying to each other. They preferred to live apart, so long as they were together. And that wasn't so simple either. It's not that easy to keep one's soul under lock and key, as it were. It was like being alone in the world and, in a way, doomed. Yet they were in thrall to a kind of law according to which the person who has accompanied you in love will be the one who accompanies you in death. They were like animals, obedient to an instinct whose meaning and function eluded them.

I'll end this review, such as it is, with my favorite passage, about the governesses coming into ownership of their desire:

At first, they didn't know how to placate these storms. Time and experience are needed. At first, they thought you had to rush everywhere, so they'd race around the garden like madwomen, climbing trees, scaring the birds away, stamping their feet at the gates, hurling all kinds of objects at each other. They would swim or read - feverishly, all night - devour an entire pheasant, tear their dresses, kiss the maids. Then came the first stranger, whom they didn't trust one little bit. They had heard about love, they had heard about men and the power they wielded. It filled them with dread. They would hide behind the curtains in their rooms, or in some dark corner in a corridor, behind a doorway, and from there would study him.

If he approached, their faces would be inscrutable, their bodies dumb. They didn't really have bodies, in fact. So long as the stranger remained outside them, they could examine him all they liked, they still didn't know a thing about him. And it was because of this fiercely guarded secret that they eventually went up to him.

They emerged from the shadows where you can see without being seen and walked into the center of the lighted room. They looked him straight in the eye. When there was desire in his gaze they knew that it was somewhere nearby that the secret was hidden. So they tried to open the door, but only a little, just to get a glimpse inside. Of themselves they gave nothing away - not a thing, not even a fingertip. They wanted to know the secret, but without having to share it with him. Again they failed. When they opened the door slightly, they saw the same thing they had seen in his gaze. Nothing more than that. The secret was still further back. They would have to go up to him and let him touch them. They gave him a mouth, a breast, occasionally an entire body, but even when he was inside them, it wasn't enough. They were still in the dark because they didn't feel a thing.

Then, one day, something in their body stirred. Something that went coursing through their limbs, igniting a million sparks that began to glow day and night. They stopped being afraid, opened their golden gates, and sat quietly without moving, waiting for him to walk into the silky trap that was the secret of his own desire.

… (mais)
lelandleslie | 3 outras críticas | Feb 24, 2024 |
Surreal and enchanting and metaphoric. Good strange.
Kiramke | 3 outras críticas | Jun 27, 2023 |
Une vieille dame en fin de vie reçoit une équipe de tournage qui tente de reconstituer son dernier manuscrit. Un court récit qui mêle sans distinctions les époques, les narrateurs et les personnages pour raconter le processus de la mémoire, de la narration et de l’écriture. Des moments de fulgurances stylistiques mais aussi des passages obscurs, truffés de références et peu captivants.
Steph. | Sep 28, 2022 |
Solid book that had a logical ending. I don't know if it was satisfactory since the choice was actually made by another character halfway through the story (and the main character's reconciliation with this fact was still viewed as a choice). Life doesn't always work that way, but our minds do (and this is definitely a book of the mind).
AngelaLam | Feb 8, 2022 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors

Mark Hutchinson Translator
Javier Albiñana Translator


½ 3.7
Marcado como favorito

Tabelas & Gráficos