The narrator, a Canadian woman, hopes to change her life by moving to Biarritz. Having escaped a devastating relationship with the mentally unstable Dominique, she is determined to make new friends and find the perfect mate. But in this summer resort frequented by couples and families, available singles are lonely people, too often embittered by romantic failure. And if the young artist Vinnie has promised entry into local society, he remains an illusive figure.
When Vinnie’s body surfaces at the Pointe des Fous new rumours circulate. Had he really been a fortune hunter, a seducer and blackmailer, or just a gentle, over-sensitive man, a loser in love and friendship? The police have concluded his death was accidental, but doesn’t everything point to murder? Or is the narrator over-reacting? Perhaps loneliness and isolation have made her suspicious, for love is as unattainable as ever, and threatening letters from Dominique are arriving with increasing frequency.
Sad Summer in Biarritz, is a mystery, a story of the desperately lonely search for love, and a satirical portrait of French nouveau riche society in the 1980s.
La Pointe des Fous: 2017
On this promontory where Vinnie was murdered, five tourists are ostensibly taking photos of a streaky sky, toothy rocks and agitated sea. In reality, they’re only photographing themselves, documenting their presence in Biarritz. They know nothing of Vinnie. Why should they? Thirty-four years have passed since his death. Perhaps I’m the only person who remembers him; I’m certainly the only one to make a pilgrimage in his name.
How Biarritz has changed. Run-down and ragged when I lived here, the promoters, decorators and architects have since taken things in hand; and destroying monuments, manors, exotic parks, they’ve created featureless apartments for retirees, sterile hotels for tourists who demand an Internet connection. Or perhaps I’m the one at fault, always out of step with contemporary taste, contemporary aspirations, contemporary conversation and contemporary behaviour.
I have no reason to remain — this is merely a trip down memory lane — and it’s a pleasant enough town, despite the modern ravages. The air is rich with the odours of southern vegetation and damp salt; and minus the holiday crowd, the sea front is elegant. Yet, when I lived here, I thought it a sad, sullen place. But I was a different person back then: a desperate creature, fleeing Dominique’s exactions; a lonely woman, spending days in cafés, noting down the conversations of others and the dull details of my own eventless life. I was a dreamer waiting for perfect love.
And, like Vinnie, I was an easy victim, scrabbling into other people’s lives and believing their lies.
To listen to Chapter One of Sad Summer in Biarritz, go here: