Published by Viking
Publication date – 23 January 2020
Source – review copy
Award-winning journalist and documentary maker Stefania Rousselle had stopped believing in love. She had covered a series of bleak assignments, from terrorist attacks to the rise of the far right. Her relationship had fallen apart. Her faith in humanity was shaken. She decided to set out alone on a road trip across France, sleeping in strangers’ homes, asking ordinary men and women the one question everyone wants to know the answer to: What is love?
From a baker in Normandy to a shepherd in the Pyrénées, from a gay couple estranged from their families to a widow who found love again at 70, Amour is a treasure trove of poignant and profound stories about love, accompanied by beautiful photographs.
Amour looks at love from the viewpoint of the everyday. It is not the stylised, Hollywood vision of love. It is coping with the loss of a loved one, of violent displays of psudo-love. It is motherly love, first love, toxic love and instances of having never found love. The reader sees snapshots into the lives of people from teenagers to octogenarians. The contributors are open in their experiences, talking frankly of abusive relationships, of feeling that they have never truly loved and of poly-amorous love.
The more moving pieces are perhaps those that depict lost love. They give a glimpse into the lives of those left behind, who had to come to terms with a new normal. Some anecdotes cause an eyebrow to be raised, shocking more for their searing honesty than what is actually being said. The translations are also raw. The reader is given the impression that the words have been translated as close to the the original language as possible. Some read like thought processes rather than stories. It is almost as if the reader can see the person being interviewed casting their mind back.
The accompanying photographs aren’t high fashion glamorous shots. These are photos of everyday life, with the sheen stripped back. Photographs of the favourite chair of a lost loved one. Snapshots of a toy, or a picture are interspersed with the portraits of the people sharing their thoughts on love.
This is a thought-provoking, moving book. One to reflect back on later.