Douglas Kennedy: Woman in the Fifth

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Douglas Kennedy Woman in the Fifth
  • Название:
    Woman in the Fifth
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Arrow Books
  • Жанр:
    Современная проза / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2008
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    9781407009605
  • Рейтинг книги:
    4 / 5
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Woman in the Fifth: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Douglas Kennedy's new novel demonstrates once again his talent for writing serious popular fiction. and were both bestsellers in paperback. That was the year my life fell apart, and that was the year I moved to Paris. When Harry Ricks arrives in Paris on a bleak January morning he is a broken man. He is running away from a failed marriage and a dark scandal that ruined his career as a film lecturer in a small American university. With no money and nowhere to live, Harry swiftly falls in with the city's underclass, barely scraping a living while trying to finish the book he'd always dreamed of writing. A chance meeting with a mysterious woman, Margit Kadar, with whom Harry falls in love, is his only hope of a brighter future. However, Margit isn't all she seems to be and Harry soon has to make a decision that will alter his life forever.

Douglas Kennedy: другие книги автора


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The Woman

in the Fifth

DOUGLAS

KENNEDY

About the Author

Douglas Kennedy’s novels — The Dead Heart, The Big Picture, The Job, The Pursuit of Happiness, A Special Relationship, State of the Union and Temptation — have all been highly praised bestsellers. He is also the author of three acclaimed travel books: Beyond the Pyramids, In God’s Country and Chasing Mammon. His work has been translated into sixteen languages. In 2006 he received the French decoration of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Born in Manhattan in 1955, he lives in London with his wife and two children.

Also by Douglas Kennedy

Fiction

Temptation

State of the Union

A Special Relationship

The Pursuit of Happiness

The Job

The Big Picture

The Dead Heart

Non-fiction

Chasing Mammon

In God’s Country

Beyond the Pyramids

For Frank Kelcz

‘Everything she had told the Superintendent was true, but sometimes nothing is less true than the truth.’

Georges Simenon, La Fuite de Monsieur Monde

One

THAT WAS THE year my life fell apart, and that was the year I moved to Paris.

I arrived in the city a few days after Christmas. It was a wet, gray morning — the sky the color of dirty chalk; the rain a pervasive mist. My flight landed just after sunrise. I hadn’t slept during all those hours above the Atlantic — another insomniac jag to add to all the other broken nights I’d been suffering recently. As I left the plane, my equilibrium went sideways — a moment of complete manic disorientation — and I stumbled badly when the cop in the passport booth asked me how long I’d be staying in France.

‘Not sure exactly,’ I said, my mouth reacting before my brain.

This made him look at me with care — as I had also spoken in French.

‘Not sure?’ he asked.

‘Two weeks,’ I said quickly.

‘You have a ticket back to America?’

I nodded.

‘Show it to me, please,’ he said.

I handed over the ticket. He studied it, noting the return date was January 10.

‘How can you be “not sure”,’ he asked, ‘when you have proof?’

‘I wasn’t thinking,’ I said, sounding sheepish.

Evidemment,’ he said. His stamp landed on my passport. He pushed my documents back to me, saying nothing. Then he nodded for the next passenger in line to step forward. He was done with me.

I headed off to baggage claim, cursing myself for raising official questions about my intentions in France. But I had been telling the truth. I didn’t know how long I’d be staying here. And the airplane ticket — a last-minute buy on an Internet travel site, which offered cheap fares if you purchased a two-week round-trip deal — would be thrown out as soon as January 10 had passed me by. I wasn’t planning to head back to the States for a very long time.

‘How can you be “not sure” when you have proof?’

Since when does proof ever provide certainty?

I collected my suitcase and resisted the temptation to splurge on a cab into Paris. My budget was too tight to justify the indulgence. So I took the train. Seven euros one-way. The train was dirty — the carriage floor dappled in trash, the seats sticky and smelling of last night’s spilt beer. And the ride in to town passed through a series of grim industrial suburbs, all silhouetted by shoddy high-rise apartment buildings. I shut my eyes and nodded off, waking with a start when the train arrived at the Gare du Nord. Following the instructions emailed to me from the hotel, I changed platforms and entered the metro for a long journey to a station with the aromatic name of Jasmin.

I emerged out of the metro into the dank morning. I wheeled my suitcase down a long narrow street. The rain turned emphatic. I kept my head down as I walked, veering left into the rue La Fontaine, then right into the rue Francois Millet. The hotel — the Select — was on the opposite corner. The place had been recommended to me by a colleague at the small college where I used to teach — the only colleague at that college who would still speak to me. He said that the Select was clean, simple and cheap — and in a quiet residential area. What he didn’t tell me was that the desk clerk on the morning of my arrival would be such an asshole.

‘Good morning,’ I said. ‘My name is Harry Ricks. I have a reservation for—’

Sept jours,’ he said, glancing up from behind the computer on his desk. ‘La chambre ne sera pas prete avant quinze heures.’

He spoke this sentence quickly, and I didn’t catch much of what he said.

Desole, mais … euh … je n’ai pas compris …

‘You come back at three p.m. for the check-in,’ he said, still speaking French, but adopting a plodding, deliberate, loud voice, as if I was deaf.

‘But that’s hours from now.’

‘Check-in is at three p.m.,’ he said, pointing to a sign next to a mailbox mounted on the wall. All but two of the twenty-eight numbered slots in the box had keys in them.

‘Come on, you must have a room available now,’ I said.

He pointed to the sign again and said nothing.

‘Are you telling me there isn’t one room ready at this moment?’

‘I am telling you that check-in is at three p.m.’

‘And I am telling you that I am exhausted, and would really appreciate it if—’

‘I do not make the rules. You leave your bag, you come back at three.’

‘Please. Be reasonable.’

He just shrugged, the faintest flicker of a smile wandering across his lips. Then the phone rang. He answered it and used the opportunity to show me his back.

‘I think I’ll find another hotel,’ I said.

He interrupted his call, turning over his shoulder to say, ‘Then you forfeit tonight’s room charge. We need twenty-four hours notice for cancelation.’

Another faint smirk — and one which I wanted to rub off with my fist.

‘Where can I put my suitcase?’ I asked.

‘Over there,’ he said, pointing to a door by the reception desk.

I wheeled over my suitcase and also took off the computer knapsack slung over my shoulder.

‘My laptop is in this bag,’ I said. ‘So please—’

‘It will be fine,’ he said. ‘A quinze heures, monsieur.

‘Where am I supposed to go now?’ I asked.

Aucune idee,’ he said. Then he turned back to his call.

At a few minutes past eight on a Sunday morning in late December, there was nowhere to go. I walked up and down the rue Francois Millet, looking for a cafe that was open. All were shuttered, many with signs:

Fermeture pour Noel.

The area was residential — old apartment buildings interspersed with some newer ones from the ugly school of seventies brutalism. Even the modern blocks looked expensive; the few cars parked on the street hinting that this corner of town was upscale and — at this time of the day — lifeless.

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