cover image Adèle


Leila Slimani, trans. from the French by Sam Taylor. Penguin, $16 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-14-313218-9

Slimani’s fascinating follow-up to The Perfect Nanny chronicles the extramarital trysts of 35-year-old Adèle Robinson. Adèle’s oblivious husband, Richard, often works long hours as a surgeon, though he’s growing tired of his job at the hospital in Paris. He often floats the idea of moving with Adèle and their three-year-old son, Lucien, to the deserted countryside. This idea enrages Adèle, who spends her waking hours sating her sexual needs (her sexual life composes most of the story). Her job as a journalist proves handy, since she can come and go as she pleases. She often asks her best friend, Lauren, to cover for her when she goes out at night. Adèle has seduced everyone from her boss, Cyril, to Lauren’s lover to Richard’s unattractive colleague, Xavier. She keeps a second cell phone that’s crammed with the numbers of men she’s willing to bed again. In the meantime, she does the bare minimum at work and will hand off her son at a moment’s notice. The story takes a turn when it focuses on Richard and how he deals with his wife once he finds out about her sex life. Though some readers might feel the novel waits too long to explore why its protagonist feels compelled to behave the way she does, this is nevertheless a skillful character study. Slimani’s ending is the perfect conclusion to this memorable snapshot of sex addiction. (Jan.)