cover image Rose Royal: A Love Story

Rose Royal: A Love Story

Nicolas Mathieu, trans. from the French by Sam Taylor. Other Press, $17.99 (96p) ISBN 978-1-63542-195-8

The presence of a .38 caliber handgun hangs over this taut novella, told in three exactingly written episodes, from Prix Goncourt winner Mathieu (And Their Children After Them). In part one, the attractive Rose devotes her evenings to the Royal, her favorite neighborhood bar. Since a boyfriend grew violent, Rose carries a gun—“a heavy weight in her purse, a helpful presence, a true companion”—which comes in handy in an emergency situation involving Luc, a man she meets in the bar. Part two charts the less than satisfactory romance that develops between Rose and Luc, and the final section, set at a posh hotel, portrays their final breakup. The handgun perhaps isn’t enough in itself to turn the narrative into noir, and Rose at times acts in unconvincing ways, but these are quibbles. Mathieu does a fine job capturing the universal ambience of a good bar and its regulars. This is an eccentric little book with depths beyond its page count. Agent: Olivier Bois, So Far So Good Agency. (Feb.)