A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir

A short book, less than 100 pages long, recounting the death and, retrospectively, the life of de Beauvoir’s mother. It is beautifully written and the translation is excellent. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that the translator in this Penguin edition is Patrick O’Brian, the celebrated novelist and no mean stylist in his own right.

I enjoyed the setting – Paris in the 1960s – as well as the emotional and philosophical underpinnings of this fine memoir. Even the odd appearance by Jean Paul Sartre (“Sartre was taking the plane for Prague the next day: should I go with him?”) is evocative.

Sad, as someone dies, but also uplifting in its detailed and true to life description of what that means for those left behind.

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