Sunday by Georges Simenon

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Note: Georges Simenon has a complicated historical record during Vichy France. He collaborated financially with fascist media organizations. I had heard a bit about that but forgot it before I read this.

Sunday is a brilliant, spare yet detailed short crime novel of a man who runs a cottage in Southern France with his wife and has made up his mind to murder her. Emile is a talented cook who married into the tourist industry but feels owned by his wife Berthe and trapped within his sham of a marriage. His pride and misogynistic hatred of his wife has mixed with his affair with the odd servant girl Ada to inspire his criminal intentions.

The story is told in a series of free-floating, smoothly time hopping flashbacks. His humiliations, marital struggles, and murderous plans are revealed in systematic and revealing segments. The slice-of-life glimpses of the Southern French tourist town are vivid. This murder is all in the details, the small insults, the food and the weather. Simenon shows us the inside of a man who feels he has been pushed into an evil action. It’s chilling in its sympathy.

Sunday is an extremely effective character study of a man committing a crime of almost passionless passion. The end is a jolt of twist with a dash of revelation.

 

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