This book started out so captivating. I was thoroughly intrigued in Adele's character and her motivations but ultimately I was very disappointed in the ending.
Adele is a wholly unlikeable character she is married, a mother and has been cheating on her husband for as long as they have been together. She craves sex seemingly to be a form of satiated (not sure if emotionally or physically) but she never manages to achieve it and so continues to sleep with as many men as possible. It doesn't matter what they look like in the slightest, she simply wants to use them to fill a void. Despite this I found her a very nuanced character. She wants to be a good mother but feels she doesn't know how, she doesn't think her very young son likes her which feeds into her being scared of having to look after him. She also doesn't want to feel this was about sex and doesn't want to be unfaithful to her husband but is compelled to do so. From what I recall she rarely engages in any form of intimacy with her husband but feels reliant on him to maintain the life she feels she is expected to lead. She frequently asks her sexual partners to get violent with her so trigger warnings for that. I don't quite understand the motivation for this, honestly it seems to be a little sensationalist/gratuitous in my opinion. Shock factor? Maybe. But the story would still have worked without it.
That aside Slimani's writing is stunning.
Then you get to the ending and it seems so out of character for a woman who would and could seduce anyone with such skill and power to suddenly become meek and subservient. I was wholly uncomfortable with the dynamic in the latter half of the novel. I don't want to spoil it so I won't explicitly mention what happened. It appears that Adele was simply forced into a situation out of revenge that she felt she couldn't escape. I am not absolving her of her earlier infidelity but still, it wasn't pleasant.
When you begin the last chapter immediately you're aware that you're now in the husbands perspective. I don't really understand the purpose of this unless it was to open up the option for a sequel. If you've read the book you'll understand what I'm referring to. If this remains a standalone it's too much of a loose end for my liking.
A promising start, disappointing ending.
I'll still be trying more of Slimani's work though because I enjoyed her writing.
Author(s): Leila Slimani
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Have you read Adele?
What did you think?
Thank-you for reading,