Leïla Slimani, Faber & Faber
On the face of it, you may think that Adèle has it all. A journalist living in Paris, her surgeon husband, Richard, is devoted to her and they have a young son. A move to an idyllic spot in the countryside has been tentatively mooted. There is something missing in Adèle’s life however, a gaping hole that she attempts to fill with sexual encounters, which are often anonymous, sometimes in back alleys, and occasionally violent. At a dinner party with her husband’s boss she can only think about the boss: “Her legs shake beneath the table. She wants to be naked.” She manages to keep this part of her life hidden from Richard although it is putting a strain on her job (she has previously slept with her boss). Leïla Slimani generated much heat in 2018 with ‘Lullaby’, which detailed how a nanny murdered her wards, and this story is told in the same clear-eyed manner. It also shares a similar gripping mystery at its heart, in this case why Adèle feels the need to use sex as a substitute for the “hideous reality” she perceives life to be.