I just finished a book called “The Art of Sleeping Alone” by Sophie Fontanel. It has been translated from French and I can just sense a lot was lost in that process. Hidden there is a chic and stylish single woman but quite often throughout the book she does not negotiate the important boundary between haughtiness and anger. There is a significant difference in tone.
I was interested in it for two reasons: I sleep alone and her first run of the novel sold 150,000 in like three days in France. I’ve been single now since January, 2012. And yes, you’re reading the subtext correct there. After the first few months of scissor-pain after the breakup, I began to feel something happening. It felt like when you come in out of a very bad storm and begin to unwrap your scarf, the rings releasing from your neck, the placing of your coat over a hook while simultaneously kicking off boots, letting your bag slump to the floor and finally sit down. The warmth settles deep into a long sigh, your hair sits happily limp, unkempt, real against your ruddy cheeks.
Indeed, you are home.
Why had this never happened before? Why hadn’t I gone inside? Why had I kept looking, furtively outside, running down the street calling out to someone else when all along my home waited for me, unknown to my own searching self?
In her book, Sophie Fontanel takes an often calculating, critical view of couples and distances herself so far from them that it tastes a little bitter at times. I don’t feel that way at all. I see them as they walk past me arm in arm, hand in hand, but barely, as though they are the same as the cashier or child walking by or a tree to be honest. It’s wonderful. I am completely content being alone and having all of my life for myself to consume now.
Gloria Steinem once said that we eventually grow up to become the men we wanted to marry. I’m not sure my image of a husband was ever that healthy but I do know when I decided to marry myself last year in Paris it felt like the right thing to do. Buy a ring, make a commitment to my life, and get on with it.
Recently, a girlfriend of mine, who is also single, didn’t want to go to visit a certain town that I also wasn’t too hip to visit. We both had the same reason: old boyfriend memories.
I said, then that is exactly where we’ll go. It is ours! We will eat, drink, dance, and celebrate. La vie est courte!
There’s a certain chicness that comes with being totally confident and comfortable in one’s skin and ironically, that is what I found missing in Sophie Fontanel’s new novel. I thought she would have had more Parisian chic between the sheets.