Phantom Life

Daniele Sallenave, Author Pantheon Books $17.95 (245p) ISBN 978-0-394-56453-1
In this insightful, unsparing analysis of the love affair between Laure, 26, and Pierre, 38, Sallenave delineates a triangle that is the very map and barometer of adultery. Pierre, a teacher, is cozily immersed in domestic comforts of children, dog, TV and bank-executive wife, while addicted to the stolen, danger-fraught ecstasy he shares with Laure. Their pasts prepared them: wayward, secretive Laure finds that adultery's peripheral ``phantom life'' frees her from ``prickly questions'' of marriage; Pierre's aca demic failure led him to teaching, which now gives him unfulfilled leisure. Books are the lovers' go-between, as librarian Laure (the Petrarchan name is noted) reads with Pierre in the hothouse of her bedroom, even as confidantes, parents and invidious gossips from the lovers' outside lives hover at its edge. Prize-winning novelist Sallenave (Prix Femina, Prix Renaudot) involves the reader deeply in her characters' predicaments, locating them with Flaubertian skill in the provincial society that entangles them. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
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