The Art of Sleeping Alone: A Memoir

Sophie Fontanel, Author
Sophie Fontanel, trans. from the French by Linda Coverdale. Scribner, $19.99 (154p) ISBN 978-1-4516-9627-1
Paperback - 153 pages - 978-1-4516-9628-8
Open Ebook - 160 pages - 978-1-4516-9629-5
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The first of Fontanel’s seven books to be translated into English, this memoir-in-fragments from French Elle’s longtime editor has been publicized as the tale of “why one French woman gave up sex.” Yet the book is less “why” and more “what.” Fontanel’s narrative reads like a series of long-distance phone calls made every few weeks. In her touching, solipsistic state, every encounter becomes an opportunity to return to the self. A trip to Hydra to stay with friends (and their children) gives her an opportunity to perform a recital of mothering. A memory of her father’s cousin suggests that if “the love of God is in itself a form of hedonism,” the love of self can be a form of godliness. This being an inspection (or introspection) of her foray into celibacy—a word she rejects (along with “chastity,” “abstinence,” and “asexuality”), opting instead for “singularity”—fashion lovers may be disappointed in the dearth of clothes: a pair of flat-heeled boots is the only name-dropped article. More central is Fontanel’s lifestyle. From a sensual massage in Goa to dining alone at a Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall in the Marais, her regime is a sumptuous escape. Agent: Bettina Edzard. (Aug.)
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