Adèle: A Novel by Leila SlimaniAdèle: A Novel by Leila Slimani

Adèle: A Novel

byLeila SlimaniTranslated bySam Taylor

Paperback | January 15, 2019

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From the bestselling author of The Perfect Nanny--one of the 10 Best Books of the Year of The New York Times Book Review--her prizewinning novel about a sex-addicted woman in Paris

She wants only one thing: to be wanted.

Adèle appears to have the perfect life: She is a successful journalist in Paris who lives in a beautiful apartment with her surgeon husband and their young son. But underneath the surface, she is bored--and consumed by an insatiable need for sex.

Driven less by pleasure than compulsion, Adèle organizes her day around her extramarital affairs, arriving late to work and lying to her husband about where she's been, until she becomes ensnared in a trap of her own making. Suspenseful, erotic, and electrically charged, Adèle is a captivating exploration of addiction, sexuality, and one woman's quest to feel alive.
Leila Slimani is the bestselling author of The Perfect Nanny, one of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the Year, for which she became the first Moroccan woman to win France's most prestigious literary prize, the Goncourt. She won the La Mamounia prize for Adèle. A journalist and frequent commentator on women's and human...
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Title:Adèle: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 7.69 × 4.99 × 0.6 inPublished:January 15, 2019Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143132180

ISBN - 13:9780143132189

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Reviews

Read from the Book

Adèle has been good. She has held out for a week now. She hasn’t given in. She has run twenty miles in the past four days. From Pigalle to the Champs-Elysées, from the Musée d’Orsay to Bercy. In the mornings, she has gone running on the deserted banks of the Seine. At night, on the Boulevard Rochechouart and the Place de Clichy. She hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol and she has gone to bed early. But tonight she dreamed about it and she couldn’t fall back asleep. A torrid dream that went on forever, that entered her like a breath of hot wind. Now Adèle can think of nothing else. She gets up and drinks a strong black coffee. The house is silent. In the kitchen she hops about restlessly. She smokes a cigarette. Standing in the shower, she wants to scratch herself, to rip her body in two. She bangs her forehead against the wall. She wants someone to grab her and smash her skull into the glass door. As soon as she shuts her eyes she hears the noises: sighs, screams, blows. A naked man panting, a woman coming. She wishes she were just an object in the midst of a horde. She wants to be devoured, sucked, swallowed whole. She wants fingers pinching her breasts, teeth digging into her belly. She wants to be a doll in an ogre’s garden. She doesn’t wake anyone. She gets dressed in the dark and does not say goodbye. She is too nervous to smile or have a conversation. Adèle leaves the house and walks the empty streets. Head down and nauseous, she descends the stairs of the Jules-Joffrin metro station. On the platform a mouse runs across her boot and startles her. In the carriage, Adèle looks around. A man in a cheap suit is watching her. He has badly shined shoes with pointed tips. He’s ugly. He might do. So might that student with his arm around his girlfriend, kissing her neck. Or that middle-aged man standing by the window who reads his book and doesn’t even glance at her. She picks up a day-old newspaper from the seat opposite. She turns the pages. The headlines blur, she can’t concentrate. Exasperated, she puts it down. She can’t stay here. Her heart is banging hard in her chest, she’s suffocating. She loosens her scarf, unwinds it from around her sweat-soaked neck and drops it in an empty seat. She stands up, unbuttons her coat. Holding onto the door handle, her legs shaken by tremors, she is ready to jump. She’s forgotten her telephone. She sits down again and empties her handbag, A powder compact falls to the floor. She tugs at a bra strap entwined with earbuds. Seeing the bra, she tells herself she needs to be more careful. She can’t have forgotten her phone. If she has, she’ll have to go back to the house, come up with an excuse. But no, here it is. It was there all the time, she just didn’t see it. She tidies her handbag. She has the feeling that everyone is staring at her. That the whole carriage is sneering at her panic, her burning cheeks. She opens the little flip phone and laughs when she sees the first name. Adam. It’s no use anyway. Wanting to is the same as giving in. The dam has been breached. What good would it do to hold back now? Life wouldn’t be any better. She’s thinking like a drug addict, like a gambler. She was so pleased with herself for not having yielded to temptation for a few days that she forgot about the danger. She gets to her feet, lifts the sticky latch, the door opens. Madeleine station. She pushes her way through the crowd that swells like a wave around the carriage and gushes inside. Adèle looks for the exit. Boulevard des Capucines. She starts to run. Let him be there, let him be there. Outside the storefront windows she hesitates. She could catch the Métro here: Line 9 would take her directly to the office, she’d be there in time for the editorial meeting. She paces around the Métro entrance, lights a cigarette. She presses her handbag to her body. Some Romanian women in headscarves have spotted her. They advance toward her, holding out their stupid petition. Adèle rushes off. She enters Rue Lafayette in a trance, gets lost and has to retrace her steps. Rue Bleue. She types in the code and goes inside, runs upstairs to the second floor and knocks on the heavy wooden door. ‘Adèle…’ Adam smiles. His eyes are puffy with sleep and he’s naked. ‘Don’t speak.’ Adèle takes off her coat and throws herself at him. ‘Please.’ ‘You could call, you know… It’s not even eight yet…’ Adèle is already naked. She scratches his neck, pulls his hair. He doesn’t care. He’s hard. He shoves her violently, slaps her face. She grabs his dick and pushes it inside her. Up against the wall, she feels him enter and her anxieties dissolve. Her sensations return. Her soul is lighter, her head an empty space. She grips Adam’s arse and drives him into her angrily, ever faster. She is possessed, in a fever, desperately trying to reach another place. ‘Harder, harder,’ she screams. She knows this body and that annoys her. It’s too simple, too mechanical. Her surprise arrival did not transform Adam. Their lovemaking is not obscene enough or tender enough. She puts Adam’s hands on her breasts, tries to forget that it’s him. She closes her eyes and imagines that he’s forcing her. Already he is somewhere else. His jaw tenses. He turns her around. As always, he pushes Adèle’s head down toward the floor with his right hand and grabs her hip with his left. He thrusts hard, he groans, he comes. Adam tends to get carried away. Adèle gets dressed with her back to him. She’s embarrassed at him seeing her naked. ‘I’m late for work. I’ll call you.’ ‘As you like,’ replies Adam. He smokes a cigarette, leaning against the kitchen door. With one hand, he touches the condom hanging from the end of his penis. Adèle looks away. ‘I can’t find my scarf. Have you seen it? It’s grey cashmere. I’m really fond of it.’ ‘I’ll look for it. I can give it to you next time.’

Bookclub Guide

From the bestselling author of The Perfect Nanny--one of the 10 Best Books of the Year of The New York Times Book Review--her prizewinning novel about a sex-addicted woman in ParisShe wants only one thing: to be wanted.Adèle appears to have the perfect life: She is a successful journalist in Paris who lives in a beautiful apartment with her surgeon husband and their young son. But underneath the surface, she is bored--and consumed by an insatiable need for sex.Driven less by pleasure than compulsion, Adèle organizes her day around her extramarital affairs, arriving late to work and lying to her husband about where she's been, until she becomes ensnared in a trap of her own making. Suspenseful, erotic, and electrically charged, Adèle is a captivating exploration of addiction, sexuality, and one woman's quest to feel alive.1. On page 119, Slimani writes of Adèle, “She understood that desire was unimportant.” What do you think this means? Why does Adèle feel so compelled to have sex with different men?2. Did your opinion of Adèle change when you learned more about her relationship with her mother?3. Every so often, it seems that Adèle is going to turn over a new leaf. For example, on page 45, Slimani writes, “She is going to clean up her life. One by one, she is going to jettison her anxieties. She is going to do her duty.” Do you think she really wants to get better? Do you think she ever will?4. Was Richard right to try to create a sense of routine and security for Adèle toward the end of the novel? What would you have done in his place?5. How did you interpret the novel’s ending? Do you think Adèle will come back?6. Did you feel sympathy for Adèle? What about for Richard?7. Slimani has said that this novel was loosely based on the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a French politician and former managing director of the International Monetary Fund who said that he was suffering from sex addiction after being charged with sexual assault in 2011. What do you think of Slimani’s decision to make the main character a woman?8. Slimani’s first novel, The Perfect Nanny, was about a seemingly flawless nanny who ended up killing her two young charges. If you read The Perfect Nanny, did you notice any similarities between the two novels?

Editorial Reviews

“[A] fierce, uncanny thunderbolt of a book . . . The feverish spark of obsession licks at the corner of nearly every page.” —Entertainment Weekly“Bold, stylish and deeply felt.” —The Wall Street Journal“Once again Slimani unveils a story which reads us and our moral reactions as we turn its pages.” —John Freeman, Lit Hub“No man would have dared write what she did. It’s an extraordinary first novel.” —Alain Mabanckou, author of Black Moses and judge for the La Mamounia Prize“Adèle exposes the contradictory urges of modern womanhood: to want to control and lose control; to mother and destroy; to be adored by many but needed by no one; to be irreproachable in conduct but free to live as she desires. It is a timely, startling read that I dare you to put down.” —Courtney Maum, author of Touch“[Slimani] is now the archetype of a certain international image of a female French author: talented, open-minded, and politically engaged.” —Vanity Fair (France), “The 50 Most Influential French People in the World”“Exposes the dark desires of a seemingly normal woman . . . Adèle—and the reader—must come to terms with what it is we demand of women in modern times, and how those punishing requirements lead so many of us to crack and try and get autonomy through unorthodox means.” —Nylon, “50 Books You’ll Want to Read in 2019”“Almost heart-wrenching . . . Slimani’s terse prose hurls toward its inevitable conclusion.” —amNewYork“Cancel your plans, because you’ll finish this addictive novel in one weekend.” —Apartment Therapy“Slimani’s fascinating follow-up to The Perfect Nanny . . . is a skillful character study. Slimani’s ending is the perfect conclusion to this memorable snapshot of sex addiction.” —Publishers Weekly“Eminently relatable . . . Artful, edgy . . . An unflinching exploration of female self-sacrifice and the elusive nature of satisfaction.” —Kirkus Reviews“Shocking . . . A brave choice for the international panel of judges [of the La Mamounia Prize] . . . [It] somehow slipped passed Moroccan censors, but it's a safe bet no Moroccan publisher would have dared print it.” —The Irish Times“Written in prose of elegant but never bloodless neutrality . . . [Adèle] leads readers through the labyrinth of desire into an understanding of solitude, isolation and the search for authenticity as our common fate.” —The Independent (London)“Displays an undeniable literary power.” —L’Express (France)Acclaim for Leila Slimani:“If you are a mother, whatever kind of mother you aspire to be, you’ll know what kind of mother you are after reading Slimani. If you are not a mother, the insights that she administers can be no less jolting. . . . Like Jenny Offill, Slimani can write ravishingly of female bodies.” —Lauren Collins, The New Yorker“In Slimani’s hands, the unthinkable becomes art.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air“Slimani is an astute observer of power politics in the home.” —John Freeman, The Boston Globe“Slimani writes devastatingly perceptive character studies.” —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review