Sunday, May 1, 2016

A New Lease of Life

French title: Une Vive Comme neuve
Year Published:  1951
Englished: Joanna Richardson, 1963

A New Lease of Life  - Georges Simenon

The main character fits Simenon’s typical main character: male, early middle age, low level job, alienated from self and others, disliked. Maurice Dudon breaks up the tedium of his monotonous life every Friday night by indulging in sleazy predilections. He peculates the petty cash, visits a quiet brothel, and goes to confession. He feels bad about the sins of stealing and fornication so he enters the confessional with morose pleasure.

His feeling that something bad is going to happen does indeed happen. One Friday, after confession, Dudon is struck by a car, a punishment he figures as long overdue. In hospital – a liminal space where transitions, wanted and unwanted, are inevitable – he finds the new lease on life of the title.

He feels unaccountably mischievous and playful. He smiles in the realization that he is in the hands of the best doctors of a luxury clinic.  A rich vintner was the driver of the car that hit him, He fears his victim’s knowledge that the vintner was with his mistress. The vintner, really on the spot, will also offer our hero a position of responsibility, much better paid. As if this were not heaven enough, our Dudon catches the romantic interest of his nurse, Anne-Marie. She is a Simenonian Ideal Woman: easy-going, caring, sensual, and buxom.

Released from the hospital, with a new job and new honey-bunny, Dudon finds everything peachy. But, insensibly, due to the effects of his head injury, he suffers chronic headache, dizziness, fogginess. During a rest cure, he faces a crisis that forces him to choose either domestic bliss or prostitute-based guilt.

Gosh, I wonder which he'll pick.

My Reviews of Other Non-Maigret Novels by Simenon
The Old Man Dies

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