Dimanche and Other Stories by Irène Némirovsky: La confidente (The Devoted Friend)

In The Devoted Friend, we have Roger Dange, a recent widow, and an esteemed singer visiting his late wife’s friend. We learn while Roger Dange was away performing in Mexico, his wife Florence met with an accident and succumbed to the injuries. Florence at the time had been staying with her childhood friend, Camille Cousin.

At first, it seems natural why Dange would want to know about the last days of his late wife. The anguish of losing a spouse is bad enough I suppose not knowing how she/ he spent the last moments of life would only make it worse. So his motives seem sincere even though the unfortunate accident had taken place two months before. But when he reveals that the reason for his visit is a letter he received from Florence dated a day after her death, it is clear that he is driving at something else. So Camille decides to come clean with Florence’s secret.

There are certain similarities between Wife to Don Juan and The Devoted Friend. In both stories, revelations about a dead person are made to a loved one. But unlike in the case of the former story, I didn’t feel the need for the revelation made in the latter. Perhaps Camille gave away her friend’s secret because she was in love with Dange herself. After all Camille reasons that she did it “To save you [Dange], to free you from her, to help you get over her death, because she is not worth even one of your tears. What you loved in her did not belong to her.” But I think Camille’s revelations only made it worse for Dange to “free” himself from Florence and get closure, given that there’s no way for him to confront Florence, and Némirovsky’s ending also hints the same.

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