At the heart of this story, just like Francoise Sagan’s other well known work Bonjour Tristesse, is a tale the evolves around the emotion of love. In Bonjour... it was about the love of a daughter for a father and of a life together. In Aimes-vous Brahms… it is about the love, which is almost abusive in its one sidedness between two old lovers that has no room for the love of a younger man.
Thirty nine year old Paule is a designer in Paris that has been stuck in a relationship with a haulage businessman Roger for six years. In that time he has had numerous affairs with other women while expecting her to remain loyal. They are both stuck in a rut that comes under pressure with the introduction of Simon a 25 year old lawyer who is the son of one of Paule’s clients. He becomes besotted with Paule and offers her all the things that Roger doesn’t and he breaks up their relationship but the irony is that Paule is unhappy with his love and ends up by dropping Simon and returning to Roger.
Is it well written?
It is written very subtly because a great deal of the big themes about love linger with you and become clear afterwards. On one level there is the straightforward story about the chase, the affair and the failure but on another there is something operating on another level about the nature of love. So you end up questioning what it is about the love that Simon offers that is so unattractive to Paule and why she returns to the almost abusive love that Roger offers? Is it a lack of confidence? Something to do with age – something that dominates the book? It is because of the ability to ask those questions this is such a good read.
Should it be read?
For anyone who just thinks romance is something that happens to teenagers this proves that it is not. But it also shows that love can be complicated in a way that probably most teenagers would never understand. It also shows that just because someone is abusive in terms of having an open relationship when you want something precious and closed that they can in fact offer more love.
Age matters in a Parisian love triangle that sees the younger man fall foul of the experienced elder lover
Version read – Penguin paperback