I read this book for the Mount TBR reading challenge 2014.
The Glass Cage (La Cage de Verre) – Georges Simenon, 1971
Emile Virieu works as proofreader at a large printing works in Paris. After his graduation, he landed some go-nowhere jobs due to his lack of pep. Eventually he found his glass cage, where he is literally locked up with sets of proofs to read and repair throughout the day. The enclosed area comforts him in that he feels secure among his co-workers who are in view but not near enough to have to interact with.
To escape domestic loneliness, he entered a loveless marriage with a typist he met at the printers. She is three years his senior, a cold intellectual, and works at home as a translator for a publishing house. The high points of life include an Italian holiday and a puppy.
Their flat, calm, monotonous life is rocked by a family tragedy. His brother-in-law, Fernand Lamarck, is an ingenious and high-spirited lawyer. But one day he falls in love with a young girl that he intends to marry after he divorces his wife. However, the wife refuses to let him go. This complication leads the young girl to end their romance, a decision that drives a drunk and desperate Fernand to suicide.
This drama is not the only the event that stirs Emile out of his apathy and inertia. A young married couple moves into Emile’s apartment building. The young wife flirts with Emile. “Uh-oh,” clucks the veteran reader of Simenon’s psychological thrillers.
Sure, you can guess her flirtatiousness meeting Emile's ticking bomb will end badly. But the suspense Simenon builds while getting to the climax provides enjoyable reading. Nothing like existential noir pulp.