The Four Corners of the Heart
Translated by Sophie R. Lewis
Translated copy 2023
Françoise Sagan’s unfinished novel, “The Four Corners of the Heart,” is a praiseworthy read and in keeping with her past novels about the wealthy French “bourgeois”.
After her death in 2004, her son, Denis Westhoff, found this unfinished manuscript in a “muddled condition” but thought it was worth including in the re-publishing of her other earlier works. Sagan was recognized at age 18 for her international best seller, Bonjour Tristesse (1954).
In this romantic novel, the plot revolves around five main characters residing at La Cressonnade, a French mansion, owned by Henri Cresson, who made his fortune shipping vegetables worldwide. His son, Ludovic, has just returned to the mansion after a long recovery from a car accident. After Ludovich came out of a coma, he was sent “…from psychiatric unit to psychiatric unit, and was even transported to the America, literally strapped down inside his jet. His wife, Marie-Laure, driver of the car in which her husband was seriously injured, is not happy with his return — she preferred to be a widow. And there is Sandra, Henri’s second wife whom he refers to as “a leg of lamb” and who often takes to her bed with illness, and her brother, Philippe, who lost his fortune and is an opportunist. When Henri hears Marie-Laure believes his son is insane and refuses him entry into their bedroom, Henri decides to host a community soirée to demonstrate his son has recovered. Henri invites Marie-Laure’s mother, widower Fanny Crawley, a Paris designer, to organize the event.
Fanny catches the attention of both father and son. But it is Ludovic, ten years younger, where she finds sexual pleasure. Fanny and Ludovic become lovers and triumph in their unexpected experiences.
Henri, a controlling person, decides he will free himself from Sandra and marry Fanny. As the story unfolds, we are left to decide if Marie-Laure will find a way to declare her husband insane and have him institutionalized thus maintain her wealthy lifestyle thus maintain. And can Ludovic and Fanny find forever love?
The reader is left to decide if Westhoff’s decision to have the unfinished novel published in “its most authentic, unadorned form” was appropriate. Nevertheless, Sagan’s writing in “Four Corners” is superb as she creates a delicious drama around selfishly rich characters.