FICTION : THE STILL STORM by Francoise Sagan; translated by Christine Donougher (Dutton: $15.95).
Francoise Sagan’s female fans may have trouble identifying with this story told by a male of 60, writing of a woman he loved and lost 30 years before. There is too little dialogue in the book for the object of his unrequited passion or any of the other key characters to reveal themselves. So we are left with the narrator’s gushy prose, forgivable perhaps because of the setting (French country estates), the romantic era (1830) and his own sentimental character. Sagan’s pronouncements on love abound, and are sometimes absurd, sometimes right on target, but always thought-provoking: “There is no love where there is no fear of love.” “You have to be very young for love to turn cold because there are other men in a woman’s life.” Or, “Silence in love is more instructive than any amount of verbiage.” This short and simple story, played out at a series of balls, suppers, hunting parties and picnics of the aristocracy, examines the undercurrents beneath the classic love triangle at a rural pace. The last three paragraphs hastily summarize the tragic outcome of the characters, so melodramatically foreshadowed throughout the rest of the book amid its rambling discourses on the nature of love.--Meredith Brucker