Fanfan

Alexandre Jardin, Author
Alexandre Jardin, Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (170p) ISBN 978-0-312-10981-3
Hardcover - 233 pages - 978-2-08-066442-6
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A bestseller in France, where it was made into a movie, this delicious, elegant fable about the conflict between passion and habit will probably resonate far less with an American readership. Twenty-year-old Alexandre Crusoe, a distant ancestor of Defoe's shipwrecked hero, is an aspiring Parisian actor determined not to reenact the loose sexual mores of his parents, who both have a steady stream of lovers. Engaged to simple, conventional Laure de Chantebise, Alexandre falls madly for Fanfan, a roguish, free-spirited young filmmaker. Impractically, he resolves to remain faithful to Laure yet also to court and love Fanfan without ever succumbing to carnal temptation. His goal in this chaste romance is avoidance of the monotony that monogamy presumably brings. The plot takes several improbable turns, including Alexandre's obsessive, voyeuristic spying on Fanfan from an adjacent flat with a two-way mirror. Finally, his octogenarian mentor, Monsieur Ti, a happily married hotelier, convinces Alexandre that `` `Perpetual passion' is an adolescent notion . . . . The greatest adventure of our age is marriage.'' Peopled with colorful eccentrics, Alexandre's first-person narration engages with its witty, irreverent comments on monogamy, male/female friendship, snobbery, hypocrisy and love. (July)
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