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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

A Cage in Search of a Bird

Florence Noiville

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To purchase A Cage in Search of a Bird

Title: A Cage in Search of a Bird
Author: Florence Noiville
Genre: Novel
Written: 2015 (Eng. 2016)
Length: 181 pages
Original in: French
Availability: A Cage in Search of a Bird - US
A Cage in Search of a Bird - UK
A Cage in Search of a Bird - Canada
L'illusion délirante d'être aimé - Canada
L'illusion délirante d'être aimé - France
L'illusione delirante di essere amati - Italia
  • French title: L'illusion délirante d'être aimé
  • Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan

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Our Assessment:

B : agreeably unsettling obsessive tale

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
LA Rev. of Books . 17/3/2017 Norman Manea
Publishers Weekly . 25/7/2016 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "Attraction is a seductive and beautiful reminder of love’s essential magic and sanity, its mystical aura and its earthly force." - Norman Manea, Los Angeles Review of Books

  • "Readers' only complaint will be the brevity of the story: the plot jumps headlong into C's obsession with little backstory and continues at a breakneck speed until the abrupt conclusion. But those looking for a gripping read will not be disappointed." - Publishers Weekly

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 original French title -- L'illusion délirante d'être aimé (translated here as: 'the delusional illusion of being loved') -- gets to the point more clearly than the English title (which is taken from one of Kafka's 'Zurau aphorisms' that Noiville uses as one of her epigraphs: "A cage went in search of a bird"), but regardless, there's little doubt from the beginning that this is a tale of unhealthy obsession. Narrated by successful TV personality Laura Wilmote, it has dawned on her that, as the first chapter is titled, 'Something is Wrong'. What is wrong is that C, a high school classmate she had once been close to but then lost touch with, but whom she got a job on her TV show when they met again, is clearly way too interested in her. C doesn't just want to be friends again, she's certain they are meant to be together, completely intertwined. And she's certain that C feels the same, and is just unwilling to admit it.
       Even as everyone else barely notices what is going on, Laura realizes that C's obsession and actions are having a devastating effect:

     A woman who is dressing as me has upended my world in an irreversible way.
       Laura looks into such obsessive behavior, and learns that it is a condition known as de Clérambault's Syndrome -- that: "delusional illusion of being loved", where someone fixates on another person, certain that there is a deep intimate connection, even in cases where the other person barely has an idea who this person is and shows no signs of reciprocation. (Movie stars and pop singers often enjoy such de Clérambault Syndrome-attention from delusional fans.) Laura is fascinated (and disturbed) by this -- at one point even admitting; "I'm no longer interested in anything but de Clérambault Syndrome" -- and watches as her life crumbles under C's continuing subtle assault.
       No one else sees a problem -- not even her Eduardo, who long thinks Laura is simply making too much of C's attentions. But, increasingly desperate, Laura finally takes radical action to resolve the situation. And with no apparent cure for de Clérambault's Syndrome, her actions -- first to separate herself from C's stifling proximity, and then to put an end to this, once and for all -- have to be quite radical indeed.
       A Cage in Search of a Bird is a doubled tale of obsessions: not only C's, but then also Laura's obsession with C's obsession -- as, for example, many of her findings about (the fascinating) de Clérambault are also recounted here. It is also -- and becomes increasingly so towards its conclusion -- a thriller. And, of course, there's the fact that along the way Laura also feeds off the material creatively: "I can feel the novel taking shape. I need material" .....
       Her chapters divided into brief sections, often only a paragraph long and rarely more than a page, Noiville immerses readers in Laura's dreadful situation right from the start. Past history is filled in, as is more detail about de Clérambault's Syndrome and how it manifests itself, but A Cage in Search of a Bird is at its best when it charges ahead in the present, as in the series of e-mails from Eduardo Laura finally reads, all in one go, once he comes to understand what has happened to her -- and then especially in Laura's manipulative conclusion.
       It makes for a quick, solid little personal thriller -- though oddly paced, in part, especially the de Clérambault-asides (which too often come across as asides, rather than part of the flow of the story).

- M.A.Orthofer, 1 September 2016

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A Cage in Search of a Bird: Reviews: Florence Noiville: Other books by Florence Noiville under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of French literature

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About the Author:

       French author Florence Noiville works for Le Monde.

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© 2016-2021 the complete review

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