Chloé’s husband has left her and their children for another woman. She is angry and confused but her father-in-law (or would that be ex father-in-law?), Pierre, comes to the rescue and whisks her away from it all. They have never been close, Pierre generally quiet in her presence but as they talk and argue, she learns so much more about him, and how sometimes you can’t help who you loved.

Oh right, I forgot to mention, it turns out I’m this boy’s wife. You know, a wife, that practical thing you drag around everywhere, and that smiles when you kiss it. So, I was a bit surprised, as you can imagine…

Someone I Loved is a novella composed mostly of conversations, starting with a car journey and little snippets of everyday life that Gavalda does so well. Soon Chloé’s betrayal is revealed and her awkward relationship with Pierre grows into a confidant. The speech is unattributed, no he said, she said, and the prose is sparse, all adding to the conversational tone. At one point, there is speech within speech and it all got a bit confusing, but it is an intimate little look into someone’s life through what they decide to tell another.

At coffee we chatted about the owner’s moustache and how awful the décor was. Two old friends covered with scars. We had lifted up a huge rock and had let it fall back immediately. It was too awful to look at what was crawling underneath.

Someone I Loved was originally written in French by Anna Gavalda and has been translated into English by Catherine Evans. This edition is published by Gallic Books in the UK and can be purchased via their lovely Belgravia Books shop along with a free copy of Breaking Away. I’m also giving away a copy of Breaking Away here to celebrate Paris in July.

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