Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Day For Night by Jean McNeil


Richard Cottar is a movie director.  His films have brought him critical acclaim.  He is about to start a new movie, a biography of the German Jewish philosopher, Walter Benjamin.  Benjamin fled Germany with the rise of the Nazi's, living in several locations such as Ibiza, Nice and Paris.  He fled France as the Nazi's conquered it, crossing the French-Spanish border with a visa to the United States.  But although the town they entered was supposed to be neutral, Benjamin's group was told upon arrival that they would be turned over to the Germans the next day.  Benjamin committed suicide.

As Richard is about to start work, he is introduced to a young star, Alex.  While he knows Alex is probably too young to portray Benjamin, Richard is always thinking ahead to the next movie and the one after that so is interested in getting to know Alex.  What he doesn't expect is the immediate bond that the two of them encounter despite Richard being more than a quarter of a century older.  He casts Alex as his star and as the two men's friendship deepens, Richard questions if he is in love with Alex.

The book then abruptly moves to his wife's story.  Joanna Cottar had always been Richard's producer.  Richard dies and Joanna decides to make his film after his death to honor his vision.  She develops her own relationship with Alex, leaving the reader to wonder if Alex is a chameleon who becomes whatever the other person needs to see.  

I listened to this novel and the narrators were perfect.  There was both a male and female narrator and they told Richard's and Joanna's story of their marriage and their relationships with Alex in a slow, perceptive manner.  One of the morals of the novel is that we fall in love with a person not so much a gender and we could change the gender of those we are attracted to as our life circumstances change.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

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