Friday, 3 September 2010

Forgotten Book - Heart to Heart


My latest entry for Patti Abbott’s series of Forgotten books is another novel co-written by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. Heart to Heart was published in the UK In 1959, in a translation by Daphne Woodward – not long, that is, after Hitchcock turned one of the duo’s earlier books into Vertigo.

Heart to Heart is rather different from other Boileau-Narcejac novels that I have read – in fact, their ability to ring the changes and their willingness to take risks are aspects of their writing that I much admire. Here the setting is the world of popular music. Jean Leprat is a young pianist who has embarked on a dangerous affair with the glamorous Eve, who is married to Faugeres, a famous songwriter who is also a selfish and sadistic husband.

Leprat is responsible for the death of Faugeres, with Eve a witness, but at first it seems that the couple have successfully covered up their involvement. But then records arrive which, when played, feature the songwriter’s last composition – and menacing messages from him.

It is a sinister and gripping set-up, but for once the authors came up with a plot that is relatively thin. I enjoyed it, but didn’t think it reached the high level of some of their other books, such as The Prisoner. The rather clunky English prose didn’t help, either. It’s a highly charged emotional thriller, and might have benefited from a less literal translation. And also, perhaps, from a protagonist rather less self-centred and weak than Jean Leprat.

4 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - I always enjoy your contributions for Forgotten Books. I learn something new every time. I hadn't been familiar with this book before, and it was very interesting to learn about it. The premise sounds intriguing and I may see if I can find it at some point, even if it's got weaknesses.

Martin Edwards said...

Thank you, Margot -and I certainly appreciate your thoughtful comments.

George said...

I read the book that Hitchcock based VERTIGO on years ago. Maybe, there are better and more recent translations of Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac works.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for hosting this week, George.