REVIEW: ‘Adèle’ – Leïla Slimani

~ I was given an advance reader copy of this title in exchange for an honest review, I’m not associated with the author or publisher in any way and the views expressed are completely unbiased and entirely my own. ~

My rating: 2.5*

‘Adèle’ is the latest offering from Leïla Slimani, author of bestseller ‘Lullaby’ (aka ‘The Perfect Nanny’)

On the surface it appears that our main character has the ‘perfect’ life in Paris with her doctor husband, toddler son and a thriving career as a journalist. Unbeknownst to those around her, however, Adèle is contending with an all-consuming sexual addiction.

I’ve seen this novel categorized as ‘erotic fiction’ but on that point I’d have to disagree. There isn’t anything sexually gratifying about Adèle’s encounters at all, and I don’t think there’s meant to be. It seems to be the thrill of infidelity that drives her behaviour, and often once she’s ‘succeeded’ in seducing someone (anyone) her desire immediately evaporates.

I could be wrong, but to me this novel draws parallels with literary realism classic ‘Madame Bovary’ by Gustave Flaubert, in the respect that it depicts the life of a woman who marries a doctor and proceeds to chase thrills elsewhere to escape the banality of her existence. Except in the case of Adèle, it happens to be a compulsive need for extramarital sexual encounters.

While intellectually I understand what the author is conveying through this work, my main criticism would be a lack of engagement for us, the reader. Adèle is such an unlikable character and her activities are described so starkly, which, however intentional, just isn’t too compelling as a reading experience. However, I will say that at just over 200 pages this is quick, easy enough read in that respect, and it’s entirely possible to finish it in one sitting.

If you’re looking for sexy times, this novel won’t be for you! Rather it’s a stark exploration of sex addiction and one womans exercise in self-destruction.

~ Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review this title. ~

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