This is her 53rd best selling novel.
Someone at work recommended it as a light summer read, and I thought, why not? The woman has sold more than 500 million books, she must be doing something right.
It held my interest to the bitter end, maybe because I felt like shouting at the characters for their stupidity.
It is a story of unrequited love between two people who are otherwise married to absolute cads. The woman, Isabelle, is a recluse devoted to nursing her gravely ill son. Her love for her son traps her in a joyless marriage, because she fears she would have no other way to take care of him (this is France, free medicare and a generous social state). She meets a man on one of her few evenings out, who happens to be rich and powerful. They connect, form a deep friendship and continue a chaste relationship by telephone for five years, until.... they arrange a weekend in London to visit art museums. Two separate rooms (no sex, of course!).
After two wonderful days together, they finally kiss. That's when a bus hits their car, killing 12 people and leaving them near dead. (How's that for punishment?)
In hospital, they lay near each other and hold hands and speak of their loveless marriages. The man realizes he will never walk again and will likely never be able to have sex; he decides he is not worthy, lies to her and stops seeing her. Months go by, they never stop loving each other, or thinking about each other, and it seems they will never unite.
435 pages of obstacles to overcome. Until literally, the very last paragraph, when the author finally allows them to requite the unrequited. For a bit I thought they really weren't going to get together after all, until....... well, here's the climax, the very last words in the book:
... He had tried to protect Isabelle, but he couldn't anymore. She had a right to choose her own fate, and this time maybe even his.
Isabelle smiled at him, and whispered "hello" as she kissed him and he held her tight.