A brilliant new novel from Agnès Desarthe’s: a woman explores her life by going back in time, guided by her passion for music.
In the reception room, a declaration of love is exchanged and a lifelong bond is formed. The lovers are a four-year-old boy and girl who have come with their class to listen to music to a Christmas concert.
Years later, in college, they meet again. She, the narrator, recognizes him. He, Étienne, has forgotten her. Yet, deep inside her, she holds onto the promise she made to herself to love him forever.
In their separate lives, each experience romantic adventures and artistic passions. Music absorbs her, while he falls for a young woman, Antonia, who inspires his creativity. For her, it is family, exceptional people, music lovers; we split up, we shout, but we remain united. For him, it’s drama: Antonia dies while giving birth to their daughter. Life brings them back to each other at the toughest moments of their lives. And, always, the narrator listens to Etienne, who never even remembers her first name. But that doesn’t matter... One day, they will meet again in an orchestra, and perhaps, on that day, the smuggler, the eternal lover, will be able to resume the course of her destiny. She will have been faithful to this man desired by all women.
The narrator, who recounts lives—both hers and those of others—is as moving as she is questioning, interrogating the passage of time, the crumbling of memory, and the painful necessity of living.
With L’éternel fiancé, Agnès Desarthe has written a masterful text that is both open to the world and deeply intimate.