Amour: How the French Talk About Love by Stefania Rousselle – review

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.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Sounds perfect for Valentines Day, and a realistic but moving antidote to all the commercialised versions of love that we’re sold at this time of year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      It is. It’s not about romantic love, but rather more about everyday love. The kind that endures or dies. It’s a very quick read as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds extraordinary, Janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      It’s very moving in it’s own way. And thought-provoking.

      Like

  3. I have this and every time I pick it up, I end up reading more than I planned! Now I just need to finish it and actually write a review!

    Like

    1. janetemson says:

      I hoped you enjoyed it 🙂

      Like

  4. MarinaSofia says:

    Hmmm, might win around even an old cynic like me…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      It’s certainly not hearts and flowers romantic. It’s more gritty and real life, which is understandable given that all the contributors are real people 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds good Janet – a nice realistic alternative to all the saccharine around at the moment!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      It is definitely not saccharine 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks very much 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply to A Life in Books Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.