Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Three Bedrooms in Manhattan; Georges Simenon

Title: Three Bedrooms in Manhattan
Author:  Georges Simenon
Publication Year: 1946 (this ed 2003)
Publisher: NYRB Classics
Edition: trade
Source: Purchased
Setting: New York
Date Completed: 12/20/2011 
Rating: 3.5/5
Recommend: yes

Three Bedrooms in Manhattan, first published in 1946, and is a short, introspective novel about two lonely people.

Francios Combe is a 48-year old French actor. After seventeen years of marriage, he's newly divorced, -- his wife left him for an actor half his age. He's a sad sap, living in a rundown place in New York,  a man looking for human connection.

"On this chilly October morning, he was a man who had cut all threads, a man approaching fifty, without ties to anything--not to family, profession, country, himself, and definitely not to home.  His only connection was to a complete stranger, a woman sleeping in his room in a seedy hotel."

Kay Miller is another lonely, lost soul who had spent a few years in Swiss sanatorium.  She was married to a Hungarian Ambassador, and has since been around the block a few times. She has a daughter that lives with an aunt.

"She wasn't beautiful or irresistible, as she thought she was. Her body, like her face was marked by life."

Francios and Kay meet in a diner, two lonely people starved for some human connection.  " Two wandering creatures, set apart on the surface of the globe, lost in the thousand identical streets of a city like New York."

The story is narrated by Francios, and it follows him and Kay as they wander the streets of New York, observing the world around them. They wander to and from various bars, stop for food, and end most evenings with a hop in the sack.  He is highly critical of her and at times even abusive, yet when the two are apart, they find they need to be together.  The writing is straight forward, yet manages to carry some punches.  The novel is only about 170 pages, was easy to read, by in the end it left me with a somewhat empty feeling.

This Belgium born author has written some 200 stories, many of which have served as inspiration for various movies and television shows. This is my first read by this author, and I most likely will try another one by him in the future.


  1. Thanks for your review - I think I'll skip this one.

  2. I've only read Simenon's The Train, but I really loved his writing. I reviewed it on my site if you're interested.

    I read an interview with him where he said that he typically writes each book in eleven days! That probably accounts for the short length of his novels!

    I'll check this one out for sure! Thanks for the review

  3. Oh I so want to give Francios a hug. Great review, thanks for the recommendation.

  4. You always find the most interesting books...sounds good

  5. This sounds a little bit sad, but perhaps it might be something for the new year when I am looking for something a little introspective. Very thoughtful review today.Thanks for sharing it!

  6. This book sounds similar to The Outward Room, a book I read about two lonely souls in New York that find each other and make a life together. I enjoyed that one, but it was very bittersweet.

  7. Thanks for bringing my attention to an author I have not been familiar with before.

  8. Sounds like a wonderfuly written, depressing story. I may give it a try someday, I would just need to be in the right frame of mind.

    Thanks for the review.


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