Infatuations by Javier Marias
This is one of the novels which explore the possibilities of the form, sum and substance of novel. A fresh perspective of the art of novel and a fresh look at the relationships and human feelings and reality. Though it is written in first person and realistic style, it delves deep into the inner worlds of each of the characters from the point of view of a woman who starts observing a couple, a husband and wife, in a cafe, from a distance. It gives pleasure and a sense of normal day to her if she watches the couple in the morning at the break fast. This may happen to us. She admires the couple for their deep love which shows in their speech and actions. After some time she does not find the couple coming to the cafe and later finds that the husband has been killed by a madman by accident. Finding the wife at the cafe one day, she goes to her to extend her condolences and she is told that the couple had also been watching her and have also given her a name. She goes to the house of the woman with the good thought that it may help her to overcome her grief.
The narrator, a woman meets two people there. In the next chapter, the narrator tells that they, the narrator and the man she met have an affair, neither romantic nor very demanding, but just an affair without any commitments on either side. One of those days when she visits him, she discreetly comes to know that the death of the man was not an accident that happened in the spur of the moment but a well planned conspiracy by the professor, the man with whom the narrator has an affair. The terror of knowing the truth about the murder puts her in an ethical delimma. The professor finds out that the narrator knows the truth and both have to live with that in fear of each other. The woman fears but also dares to question the professor about the murder. The professor spins an unbelievable story of the husband having a kind of cancer and having requested the professor to erase him without him knowing the day or method adopted by the professor to execute this plan. Both of them knew this the other persons is not convinced it to be true. But their affairs comes to an end.
After some time, the narrator finds the professor with the ex-wife of the murdered man in a restaurant, probably married. She goes to them and interacts with them as if she does not know anything and finally departs without any comments.
All at once I enjoyed the pleasure of reading Dostoevesky, Dickens and masters of magical realism, together in one novel. The nature of love, hate, relationship, sex, jealousy conspiracy and death and in fact, full spectrum of human emotions and feelings, we experience or see in this world are explored in great details in the novel. Though, the novel is in the form of stream of consciousness, there are dramatic events, thrilling revelations which compel one to read. Though there is a sense of justice, good and bad, there is no resolution of the conflict between good and bad. These are left as they are. We are only bystanders in a great drama. Suddenly we find ourselves into the family life of an individual and with the same suddenness we get out of the situation at the end. No moral judgements and life goes on for every one.
We may also say, in the same manner as that of the author, ‘sometimes it may be in our interest that we do not know the truth, for knowing the truth may trouble or harm us more than not knowing the truth.
Altogether, an excellent novel to read.