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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Intervention of a Good Man

Hervé Le Tellier

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To purchase The Intervention of a Good Man

Title: The Intervention of a Good Man
Author: Hervé Le Tellier
Genre: Novel
Written: 2007 (Eng. 2011)
Length: 64 pages
Original in: French
Availability: The Intervention of a Good Man - US (Kindle)
The Intervention of a Good Man - UK (Kindle)
Je m'attache très facilement - Canada
Je m'attache très facilement - France
  • French title: Je m'attache très facilement
  • Translated by Adriana Hunter
  • The Intervention of a Good Man is currently only available in e-book formats

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Our Assessment:

B : playful, slight

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Le Figaro . 15/10/2007 Philippe Lacoche
Télérama . 3/3/2007 Martine Laval

  From the Reviews:
  • "(U)n adorable petit roman, vif, ironique, amusant" - Philippe Lacoche, Le Figaro

  • "C’est un livre pour rire -- pas pour se moquer. (...) Pas de surprise, pas de suspense, mais un récit littéraire gouleyant qui désamorce le drame, joue avec les clichés, toutes sortes de maladresses distrayantes." - Martine Laval, Télérama

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Intervention of a Good Man is a short novella, and tells a relatively simple story: a man travels to Scotland to meet a woman he has been involved with and for whom he has strong if somewhat unresolved feelings. She is much younger than he is -- "She is thirty, which is almost twenty. He fifty, which might as well be sixty" -- and there is another man in her life ("almost a husband").
       Things do not begin well -- his flight is delayed -- and the narrative proceeds haltingly towards the rendezvous (mirroring the hero's frustrated waiting). They do get together, but it's no great romantic moment (or devastating heartbreak). There is a parting of sorts -- or at least they go through some of the motions of separation:

A few questions and he gets her to say she no longer cares for him. And, more important, that she no longer wants him. He doubts this is altogether true, but it is still what he wants to hear at the moment, to give him the strength to leave.
       It doesn't turn out to be that simple.
       The French title of the book is the Romain Gary-epigraph Le Tellier also uses, "I get attached very easily", and the hero of The Intervention of a Good Man does suffer from a predisposition to attach himself (which then makes detaching himself all the more difficult). This story is one of him finding himself buffeted by circumstances: as with the delayed flight that starts it all, almost every expectation is dashed. Some things still work out -- from the flight to his get-together with this woman -- but rarely turn out precisely as expected or planned. And the vagaries of love remain.
       The Intervention of a Good Man is a trifle, but there's a nice flow to it. The narrative voice, both describing and commenting, is an entertaining one, and the sympathetic-ironic tone and the asides ("Why do we always push harder on the remote control when the batteries are dying ?") make for a nice distancing effect.
       The text does pose some difficulties in translation, but there are also a number of oddities of language that can't be excused by that: surely "the river’s English name, Armur" isn't correct (it's Amur, too). As to:
The place, for readers who might know Chris Marker’s film, is like the hotel in The Jetty.
       Well, surely readers who know (and even those who don't) call the film (even in English) by its French title, La jetée.
       Overall: a fine if very slight novella showing just how elusive and complicated love can be.

- M.A.Orthofer, 17 February 2011

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The Intervention of a Good Man: Reviews: OuLiPo: Other books by Hervé Le Tellier under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       French author Hervé Le Tellier was born in 1957. He is a member of the Oulipo.

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