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Elle
Cover of Elle
Elle
Elle is a psychological thriller that recounts thirty days in the life of its heroine Michèle—powerfully portrayed by Isabelle Huppert in Paul Verhoeven's award-winning film—where memory, sex, and death collide on every page.

A few weeks before Christmas, Michèle picks herself up from her living room floor. She has been raped. She has almost no recollection of her attacker but she senses his presence—he is never far away—and this uncanny feeling triggers a whirlwind of events and memories. She begins to fear she is losing her grip on a life already complicated by a demanding job, an ex-husband with a new girlfriend, a jealous lover, and a son trapped in a relationship with his girlfriend pregnant by another man.
Hardened by the consequences of her father's violent past, Michèle—nearing fifty, fiercely independent and unsentimental—refuses to be reduced to a victim. When her rapist begins taunting her with messages, she takes measures to protect herself—until she discovers his identity.
Through the bitingly sarcastic and unflinchingly realist voice of its heroine, Elle paints a striking portrait of one woman's experience that challenges our notions of masculinity and femininity, weakness and strength.
Elle is a psychological thriller that recounts thirty days in the life of its heroine Michèle—powerfully portrayed by Isabelle Huppert in Paul Verhoeven's award-winning film—where memory, sex, and death collide on every page.

A few weeks before Christmas, Michèle picks herself up from her living room floor. She has been raped. She has almost no recollection of her attacker but she senses his presence—he is never far away—and this uncanny feeling triggers a whirlwind of events and memories. She begins to fear she is losing her grip on a life already complicated by a demanding job, an ex-husband with a new girlfriend, a jealous lover, and a son trapped in a relationship with his girlfriend pregnant by another man.
Hardened by the consequences of her father's violent past, Michèle—nearing fifty, fiercely independent and unsentimental—refuses to be reduced to a victim. When her rapist begins taunting her with messages, she takes measures to protect herself—until she discovers his identity.
Through the bitingly sarcastic and unflinchingly realist voice of its heroine, Elle paints a striking portrait of one woman's experience that challenges our notions of masculinity and femininity, weakness and strength.
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About the Author-
  • Philippe Djian is the award-winning author of more than twenty novels, including the best seller 37°2 le matin, published in English as Betty Blue. Elle is the fifth of his novels to be adapted for the screen. Published in French under its original title "Oh...", this best-selling novel received the 2012 Prix Interallié.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 10, 2017
    Djian’s slim, disturbing novel, already a controversial bestseller in France, is unsparing and fiercely intelligent. The book begins with narrator Michèle on her living room floor after being raped by an unknown attacker. Michèle, “nearing fifty, fiercely independent and unsentimental,” reacts to this assault in the same way that she meets most of the demands of her life: with incisive wit, brutal honesty, and an almost unnerving composure. In spite of the attack, she continues to manage a demanding career, financial responsibility for her son and her mother, and an affair with her best friend’s husband. However, Michèle’s assailant does not disappear. He breaks into her home while she is away; he taunts her with lewd and threatening messages. As Michèle tries to discover who her attacker is, readers come to learn of her family’s violent past and understand how this history shapes her present and how the present circumstances reshape her history. Djian’s bold novel, winner of the 2012 Prix Interallié and adapted into an award-winning film directed by Paul Verhoeven, is slight but packs a powerful punch.

  • Shelf Awareness "Like the movie, the book is a harrowing tale"
  • Paris Match "Be aware. This is a literary work, a powerful book, a novel that breaks and enters into forbidden lands."
  • Le Magazine Littéraire "Philippe Djian has the knack to persuade his reader to accept the humanity of the inhuman things he describes, and that pain and pleasure don't have the same borders as good and evil. But the reader doesn't have time to think, he has a book to finish. A book that barges in on him until the last chapter. If one thinks that it is the story that gives the speed, one is wrong; it's the art of writing."
  • Les Inrockuptibles "This is not an apology of rape, far from it. This is not an essay on woman, and their behaviors or reactions when they are confronted with such crime, but the voice of a particular woman, rid of misogynistic clichés in which they are still often locked. No sentimentalization, no victimization, no dependency on men, no blinding maternal feelings... A free woman, therefore a politically incorrect one."
  • L'Express "There is no provocation in this novel, but on the contrary Djian has the ability to show, without ever judging, what are the mechanics of both soul and heart."
  • Vogue "Incisive, corrosive, sexy, as sad as it is funny, and incontestably exhilarating."
  • Aujourd'hui "His writing, simple and vivacious, filled with a violence that threatens to explode at every line creates a double-entry suspense: psychological and romantic."
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