Villa Triste by Patrick Modiano

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Not much happens in these elegantly written pages, but the atmospherics are perfect: a brilliant evocation of place, memory, and loss, shot through with an aching nostalgia.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

This novel by Nobel Prize–winning author Patrick Modiano is one of the most seductive and accessible in his oeuvre: the story of a man’s memories of fleeing responsibility, finding love, and searching for meaning in an uncertain world
 
The narrator of Villa Triste, an anxious, roving, stateless young man of eighteen, arrives in a small French lakeside town near Switzerland in the early 1960s. He is fleeing the atmosphere of menace he feels around him and the fear that grips him. Fear of war? Of imminent catastrophe? Of others? Whatever it may be, the proximity of Switzerland, to which he plans to run at the first sign of danger, gives him temporary reassurance.
            The young man hides among the other summer visitors until he meets a beautiful young actress named Yvonne Jacquet, and a strange doctor, René Meinthe. These two invite him into their world of soirees and late-night debauchery. But when real life beckons once again, he finds no sympathy from his new companions.
            Modiano has written a haunting novel that captures lost youth, the search for identity, and ultimately, the fleetingness of time.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

About Patrick Modiano

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Paul Modiano is a French writer who was born on July 30, 1945, in Boulogne-Billancourt. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2014 for his lifetime body of work. He previously won the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in 2012 and the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca from the Institut de France for his lifetime achievement in 2010. His other awards include the Prix Goncourt in 1978 for his novel Rue des boutiques obscures and the Grand prix du roman de l'Académie française in 1972 for Les Boulevards de ceinture. Modiano's works explore the traumas of the Nazi occupation of France and the puzzle of identity. His preoccupation with the theme of identity can be seen throughout many of his works including his 2005 memoir entitled Un Pedigree. Modiano was greatly influenced by his parents' relationship. His mother and father began their clandestine relationship during occupied France. Growing up, his father was absent for most of his life and his mother was away frequently while on tour acting. He was alone much of the time and went to school because of government aid. His younger brother died of a disease at age 10 and this added to his "lost identity" feelings while growing up. Modiano first came to prominence in France when he wrote the 1968 book La Place de L'Étoile. He has published over 30 works which include novels, screenplays and children's books. His other works include: La Ronde de nuit (1969), English translation: Night Rounds; Rue des boutiques obscures (1978), English translation: Missing Person; and Quartier Perdu (1984), English translation: A Trace of Malice. Although he is well known in France, only about 12 of his works have been translated into English.
 
Published May 31, 2016 by Other Press. 176 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Villa Triste
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Above average
on Mar 15 2016

Not much happens in these elegantly written pages, but the atmospherics are perfect: a brilliant evocation of place, memory, and loss, shot through with an aching nostalgia.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Jon Sobel on Jun 10 2016

...Villa Triste is both a classic bildungsroman and a reflection of one fine writer’s idiosyncratic vision, served well by John Cullen’s artful new translation and now available as a trade paperback from Other Press.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Malcolm Forbes on Jul 09 2016

"Villa Triste" is framed as a remembrance of lost time. Modiano blends sharp, colorful nostalgia with hazy recollection to produce a haunting, mysterious and immensely satisfying tale.

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