Belle De Jour


I’ve watched Luis Buñuel’s Simon of the Desert and  Exterminating Angel—one of my favourite films and I was going to watch Belle De Jour when I discovered there was a book, and this book is where Buñuel got his inspiration from. Joseph Kessel’s Belle De Jour follows  Séverine Serizy,  a young and somewhat flighty married woman who has lived a sheltered/pampered life. She and her husband  Pierre, a doctor, live a rather comfortable drama free life.  Their relationship is kind of odd, yet they seem deeply in love. They sleep in separate beds with the occasional tryst, but for Séverine there seems to be something lacking in their relationship.  Pierre sees her as some sort of pure, fragile angel—which turns out to be far from the truth when feelings she doesn’t understand festers into a desire to work at a brothel while her husband works.  She lives a double life under the name Belle De Jour, falls for one of her clients and when her secret life is about to be revealed, she goes to extremes to keep things under wraps.

She didn’t know whether the sacrifice she was making would bring her horror or happiness; but before it was accomplished she had to find Pierre and let him see her as the woman he loved for the last time. For the moment was upon her when this woman would be consumed.

Even after completing the book It’s confusing as to why  Séverine did what she did. Perhaps it was a case of wanting her cake and eating it too, not being able to express her wants to her husband also seems o be part of it. They’re both so stuck in their roles that they never actually talk about anything beyond the surface. It’s not the makings of a good relationship if you can only be one thing for a certain person and you need  someone else to explore the other parts of yourself.

 She’d lived her life in such a secure sense of dignity that no one had ever dared displease her.

For a book about an every-day-woman who joined a brothel, it isn’t very racy. So if you blush easily don’t work, there are no graphic sex scenes in the book, its more of  a leave it to your imagination type book. I enjoyed the writing which was surprising since it’s— I don’t want to say flowery—but it’s very wordy and as a former journalism student I usually prefer writing that gets to the point. I wouldn’t say I rooted for, or liked one character more than the other, they were all quite flawed but the book in it’s entirety: plot, character development, etc made it a satisfying read. I can’t wait to see how the film compares.


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