Jezebel (Vintage International)
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A stunning novel about mothers and daughters, about vengeance, and an aging, still beautiful woman on trial for shooting her lover.
In a French courtroom, the trial of a woman is taking place. Gladys Eysenach is no longer young, but she remains striking, elegant, cold. She is accused of shooting dead her much-younger lover. As the witnesses take the stand and the case unfolds, Gladys relives fragments of her past: her childhood, her absent father, her marriage, her turbulent relationship with her daughter, her decline, and then the final irrevocable act. With the depth of insight and pitiless compassion we have come to expect from the acclaimed author of Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky shows us the soul of a desperate woman obsessed with her lost youth.
that hold the relics of saints.’ Gladys smiled as she thought of her white dress and bare arms, without any jewellery whatsoever, her hands with no rings, and the murderous look Nathalie had flashed her, crushed beneath her diamond armour. ‘Are you enjoying the social scene this summer?’ ‘It’s deadly dull. But Gladys, where else would you go?’ ‘I don’t know. But I want to leave. I’ve been feeling sad for some time now, weary. I feel a kind of cruel restlessness,’ she said lightly, trying to
Marie-Thérèse’s hands. ‘All right? You’ll wait until you’re more experienced, wiser. You know nothing, you’ve seen nothing of life yet. Just wait. In two or three years, if you still love Olivier, well, then, you’ll marry him. But not now, good God, not now,’ she murmured, and she held her daughter close to her, looked at her, beseeching her. She was so accustomed to having her own way that she couldn’t even imagine being refused anything. ‘You love me, don’t you, darling? You don’t want to hurt
Suddenly Lily remembered something. ‘Your daughter must be grown up by now. Is she married?’ ‘No, no,’ said Gladys hastily, for her lover was coming towards her. ‘No. Didn’t you know? She died …’ ‘How terrible for you,’ murmured the old woman compassionately. She kissed Gladys on the cheek with her painted lips; it left a smudge of lipstick that Gladys tried secretly to wipe away from her trembling face. ‘You poor, poor darling. You loved her so much …’ Gladys walked over to join her lover
was said. ‘Yes, and they’re the ones who say it,’ she mused with sad lucidity, ‘but in truth, they’re only loved by gigolos, or former lovers who still love them only because they remind them of their past. If only Dick were still alive. I would never have been old to him. But Monti … To admit to him: “I’m sixty. I have a twenty-year-old grandson …” I’d feel so ashamed. I want him to admire me, to be proud of me. I want to be young. I was young until now. No one suspected how old I was. And now …
be flattered …’ ‘That’s the defence’s argument.’ Meanwhile, the Judge was asking the witness: ‘Did you spend the evening of the crime with the defendant?’ ‘Yes, Your Honour.’ ‘You met the accused in 1930?’ ‘That is correct.’ ‘You wished to marry her?’ ‘Yes, Your Honour.’ ‘Gladys Eysenach agreed to marry you at first. Then she changed her mind, did she not?’ ‘Yes, she changed her mind.’ ‘What were her reasons?’ ‘Madame Eysenach was reluctant to give up her freedom.’ ‘And she gave no