Jean, an eighteen-year-old French student, whose parents have left him in the care of an old friend, becomes besotted with a slightly older Gisele. He accompanies her as she walks or drives around Paris meeting various people, collecting belongings from her previous residence, and stopping at various cafes to eat. She is never clear about what she is doing, but Jean ignores the warnings, even when Gisele’s acquaintance asks him for a favour that doesn’t seem above-board.
“We were in a white room. A blonde girl. twenty-something, was sitting on a red couch.”
“Later, I would often return to that area, and each time the stairways on Rue de l’Alboni reminded me of the Saturday when I had walked around here, waiting for her.”
“Over the following months, I had seen him from my window, at night, parked in front of the building in that blue car with white trim. And I was afraid.”~Quotes from “After the Circus” by Patrick Modiano
Yes, this story is creepy, and the author succeeds in creating a foreboding atmosphere throughout. Jean and Gisele move around Paris, seemingly without much purpose, and the reader is not given too many clues about what’s going on. The abrupt ending was a disappointment.
the opinion of others:
- The Complete Review: “After the Circus is, ultimately, a bona fide — and first rate — thriller. Completely low-key and understated, and practically uneventful. And yet so effectively creepy, perfectly devastating — and heartbreaking.”
- The Herald: “You know the full picture will never be revealed in Modiano’s Paris, a city of silhouettes and reflections where “lights and shadows shaped like window grates” skid across bare walls and ceilings.
- New York Journal of Books: “Modiano’s writing is minimal in the extreme: He doesn’t share pages of descriptions of landscape or weather or clothing styles or significant architecture of the city of lights. Even night and day are hardly distinguished.”