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BOOK CORNEr: Simenon
Ann Gardner | Via Latina


I was going to let it pass but the comment keeps coming back to haunt me, begging for an answer. In last month’s Book Corner Virginia Lawrence reported on the favorite choices of several Del Mar book clubs. We were one, and we dutifully submitted our favorites for the year. The comment that gave me pause was regarding one of our choices The Man Who Watched Trains Go By. “No reason was offered for the choice of Simenon’s novel,” she reported. I did not realize we were supposed to give a reason for our choices, so here goes.

Once a year our club puts together a list of books to read for the next twelve months (let me assure you this is no easy task!). An ever changing and elaborate selection procedure aside there is one rule we always insist on, the book must have been read and recommended by at least one of the members. (We have neglected the rule only once or twice and the result was to promise ‘never again,’ but that is another story.) I had read and was intrigued by Georges Simenon’s book about a very respectable family man who had served his company loyally for many years but abruptly abandons his values and family for an unimaginable foray when his company goes under because of corrupt management. Research of the author led me to believe that indeed Simenon’s “hard” or philosophical novels were a treat even though he is best known as the creator of the fictional detective Jules Maigret. That is how the book got on our list and the choice as a favorite is also supported by a couple of follow-up occurrences:

One member liked it so well she asked to borrow whatever other Simenon “hard” novels I had and hasn’t returned them yet! And, after reading the novel, a friend began ordering every single Simenon “hard” novel available on Amazon.com, and continues to thank me to this day for the suggestion.



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