The 10 Simenons to Read
Writer and editor Jean-Baptiste Baronian is also an expert on the work of Simenon, about whom he has written two books. Here is his selection:
- The Crime at Lock 14, Maigret Meets a Milord (Le Charretier de « La Providence ») (1931). One of the very first Maigrets and one of the most characteristic: the world of boatmen, lock keepers, and bargemen, described with an astonishing mix of poetry and realism. Entrancing.
- A Face for a Clue, Maigret and the Yellow Dog (Le Chien jaune) (1931). Atmosphere, atmosphere: it rains, it rains a lot, Concarneau is sad and everyone is afraid. Maigret, more intuitive than ever, uncovers the dark sides of souls.
- The Murderer (L'Assassin) (1937). A doctor decides to kill his wife and the man she is cheating on him with. His double crime achieved, he realizes that his life no longer has any meaning. The thousand and one torments of loneliness.
- The Burgomaster of Furnes (Le Bourgmestre de Furnes (1939). The unflinching portrait of an all-powerful man confronted by the dramas of daily life. The perfect example of what is called Simenon's 'roman dur' (serious novel).
- Je me souviens... [I Remember] (1945). Simenon's first autobiographical work. A key book. And surely the most beautiful ever written about Liège.
- Maigret in New York (Maigret à New York) (1947). We see only Maigret, far from his base, always the Parisian pedestrian. But what was he doing in the American metropolis?
- The Patient, The Bells of Bicêtre (Les Anneaux de Bicêtre) (1963). The great novel of his maturity. The proof the some of Simenon's innumerable characters could go from darkness to light.
- The Blue Room (La Chambre bleue) (1964). A sensual Simenon, erotic, passionate. Moving. And it shows the great novelistic skill of the writer from Liège.
- Maigret Takes the Waters, Maigret in Vichy (Maigret à Vichy) (1968). Here, for once, Mme Maigret has more than a bit part, and is not the humble servant of the lord. In contrast, it is Maigret himself who is diminished. Almost to the point of becoming intangible.
- Intimate Memoirs (Mémoires intimes) (1981). Simenon tells all: his childhood, family, loves, encounters, houses, books... Written to the memory of his daughter Marie-Jo, a suicide in 1978 at the age of 25, this monumental autobiography is part outpouring, part plea, part confession.