The Thumbnail Book Reviews

by John Q McDonald --- 19 February 1998

Simple Passion

by Annie Ernaux

This little book is a memoir of an obsessive love affair between the protagonist and a mysterious married man. Spoken in her own words, in a spare and intense manner, we hear of her love, her passion, and her constant occupation with the affair. The nameless man is invoked only through her brief meetings with him, then in the long painful times between, through her thoughts, imagination, jealousy and obsession. The book is explicit, yet doesn't entirely live up to the intensity of its opening chapter. In its brief 64 pages, though, are encapsulated the emotions of obsessive love. Throughout, I felt the sense of loss and the loss of control to a loved one, distant and independent. One does not have to have lived this sort of affair to relate to the feelings written here. The reader may come out the other side just as Ernaux does, with the exhausted memory and the scars of love.

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