L’Effet Casimir

L’Effet Casimir


ISBN : 9781623097868 | 366 pages | $9.99 | | Guy Verville

In French only Second edition, revised and expanded. This book was first published by Varia (who has ceased his activities). First ISBN of 2001: 2-922245-42-X. I took back my rights and published in ePub format.

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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)