Lolita is one of my favourite books of all time. It is thought-provoking, jarring, and extremely well-written. Heck, it is one of the best works of 20th century literature. Now, I picked up this book because reviews described it as ‘Lolita-esque’. And man, did this book have that potential! The author writes about the erotic relationship between Ellie Becker, in her 20s, and Monsieur, a married man with five sons in his mid-40s. Although Ellie is technically an adult, the difference in age means that she is considered a ‘nymphette’ by her lover.
This book, funnily enough, was titled Mister when written originally in French. Anyway, the two characters bond over erotic poetry and as winter creeps in on France, they become involved in clandestine sessions in a hotel room. By this point of the book, I was loving it. It was very lyrical, the sexting kept it relevant to modern times, and I was quite warming up to it. Some of the lines are beautiful:
Even the fingers lingering on the back of my neck felt clothed, elegant, and relaxed. For a few minutes they fluttered all the way down to my spine, caresses I had never experienced before, disturbingly reaching for the depths of my soul.
Paris held its breath.
At some point, however, the narrative kept going steadily downhill. The emotions were repetitive; the characters were not feeling enough to warrant all the pages and it just got dragging. For a while, when the man disappears and Ellie becomes obsessed with his wife, I thought something interesting was going to happen, but nothing did.
And finally, they ended their relationship and I was quite relieved. The erotic bits of the novel started out wonderful as well, and then just became annoying and kind of gross. If you do read the book, you’ll know why I say that. And it was pointless gross, it added nothing to the narrative. The author is Emma Becker and the protagonist is Ellie Becker, I did find that slightly odd as well.
Anyway, towards the end, I was definitely annoyed because the book was being compared by people (idiots) to Lolita, and this book doesn’t hold a candle to that masterpiece, I tell you. Clearly, not a lot of people understand Humbert, or Nabokov.