cover image Uncle Charles Has Locked Himself in

Uncle Charles Has Locked Himself in

Georges Simenon. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $19.95 (150pp) ISBN 978-0-15-192685-5

Written in 1939, this psychological novel betrays no aging in Curtis's seemingly literal translation of Simenon's disciplined, flavorful French. The setting is Rouen where Charles Dupeux returns from work one day and shuts himself off in the attic. His wife Laurence and four daughters get no response from the self-exiled man; neither does his mean, rich employer and brother-in-law, Henri Dionnet. Always contemptuous of his poor kin, Henri surprises Laurence when he arrives to investigate the situation. In time Charles does resume his job, Henri having suffered a heart attack from fears over what his enigmatic hireling has discovered about the Dionnet enterprise. As events unfold, one grows exceedingly interested in Simenon's subtle revelations about the four very different Dupeux girls. Not directly affected by Charles's bold actions, each in her own way suffers from the strictures of uneven human relationships. (October 14)