ISBN : 9781623097868 | 366 pages | $9.99 | 2012 | Guy Verville
A retired psychoanalyst, Martha lives peaceful days with three former patients who have become her friends over the years. His happiness could have been complete if the man of his life, the painter Leo Arcand, had not left her five years earlier, after forty years of living together. This autumn morning when the novel begins, Martha makes a decision that will gradually change everyone’s habits.
A finely described daily life
With L’Effet Casimir, Guy Verville proposes a tone and characters different from what he has written so far. Described by its author as a quiet novel, this work combines, as easily as life itself, happiness and sadness, reflections and comedy, dramatic and earthy characters. A story that follows the rhythm of the river on whose banks it takes place : calm and inexorable, sometimes eventful, always an intense reflection of life and things.
If life is an eternal restart, with its ups and downs, its false certainties, its disappointments and its incessant dreams, Guy Verville wanted to grasp the essence of time that passes and shapes the beings who, in turn, shape others as they move back and forth. The Casimir Effect follows the days of a woman, Martha, a former psychologist in her early seventies, who is still struggling with heartache. Fortunately, she lives in her mansion near the splendour of the river, surrounded by a few former patients who have become her friends.
The subtitle, “quiet novel”, may arouse in the reader a slight apprehension about the rhythm of the narrative. Anyway, “quiet” here manages not to rhyme with boring. However, Verville’s challenge was daunting. Talking about everyday life, and more particularly that of individuals living in the entourage of a dying person (one of Martha’s old friends has cancer), could have tired the reader, giving him the unpleasant impression of wasting his time. With The Casimir Effect, this is not the case.
On the contrary, the reflections of Martha, a fine fly – except for her own life – know how to weave a framework from which the reader will have no desire to extract himself, just as curious to hear the soliloquies of the heroine with his conscience (formidable psychologist’s consciousness) as to know the evolution of the beings who inhabit this rural microcosm. For the gentleness of these deep friendships created by time and the intimacy between beings who were originally very different, combined with the calming effect of the rhythm, power, constancy and omnipresence of the river, create a universe in its own right, both physical and metaphysical. There evolve real beings to whom it is difficult not to believe and not to be attached.
Lucienne, the maid in the colours of the countryside, who adds up the lovers despite her age and build ; Armand, musician and astrologer who learns to tame her near end ; Rémi, an energetic homosexual with a noble heart, who tries to convince himself that love does not exist ; Gustave, a tease with tender feelings and finally Martha, intelligent, cultivated, loving, made for happiness, with a fidelity that moves her as much as it prevents her from overcoming her pain and disappointment. All these figures are endearing and their modest adventures interest as do, for any individual, the stories lived by relatives. Their problems, their moods and their projects arouse the reader’s interest insofar as they themselves are the subject of a very special sympathy.
It is impossible not to be touched by this old woman who regrets the happiness she experienced with the man she had chosen to love forever. The same is true of Armand’s friends’ reaction to his death. At first deeply sad, jealous of a common complicity, they return to happiness after the fatal hour, because the human being is thus made that he cannot resist the desire to be happy.
Guy Verville delivers the joys of everyday life, its sorrows, in short, he writes about life. And life, like a Narcissus of planetary proportions, likes to read, analyze and contemplate itself when it recognizes itself as precisely depicted, which is true in The Casimir Effect.
Sophie Pouliot, Le Devoir (2001/10/13)