cover image My Husband

My Husband

Maud Ventura, trans. from the French by Emma Ramadan. HarperVia, $28.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-327482-2

Ventura’s irresistible debut follows a week in the life of a Paris woman obsessed with her husband of 15 years. When the unnamed narrator’s husband tells her one Sunday morning that they need to talk, she assumes the worst: their marriage is over. She recounts the days leading up to this moment, detailing her routine as a high school English teacher, literary translator, and mother of two children. Underneath her veneer of normalcy, however, she constantly frets over her relationship with her husband. She’s deeply in love but never comfortable—she pretends to be nonchalant around him, but won’t let him see her without makeup and keeps a diamond ring from an ex hidden in a box. Her anxiety spirals after a night with friends, during which her husband compares her to an inferior fruit: “How could he have reduced his own wife to the rank of a vulgar clementine? (And why not a banana?)” When he doesn’t wish her goodnight, she silently refuses to cuddle with him. As the mystery intensifies regarding what the husband has to say to her and why she thinks it’s all over, the narrator's behavior becomes increasingly reckless. Ramadan’s exacting translation grips the attention, and what makes this so thrilling is not just the narrator’s surprising ruthlessness but how Ventura causes the reader to repeatedly change their mind about who’s to blame for the messed up marriage—right up to to the explosive ending. It’s a bold and memorable first outing. Agent: Marleen Seegers, 2 Seas Agency. (July)