Sympathetic Ink, by Patrick Modiano

In its inexhaustible debt to the XNUMXth century. A time increasingly loaded with great stories as we move away in time, Modiano leads us through a plot that is recreated in that nostalgic notion of the ephemeral. In the idea of ​​the possible mark that we can, or not, leave in our passage through the world. Because we can all be subjects of an investigation about our lives. Or that is clear at least with respect to a Noëlle Lefebvre converted into a vital foundation.

What Noëlle could or could not do. The reasons for finding her, at the first moment in which Jean, our main character, receives the task of putting her puzzle together, may fade as the essential thing is simply her, her passage through the world, her future between successes or failures. An elusive destiny that Jean intends to trace with obsessive intensity as his own time presses. It's just that some destinations seem to be written in invisible ink, with that nice ink on which one can easily pass his eyes when jumping between paragraph and paragraph.

A detective trainee named Jean Eyben is commissioned by the Hutte agency, for which he works, to follow the trail of a woman. The woman is named Noëlle Lefebvre, and the young investigator pursues her unsuccessfully. Thirty years later, he takes up that case on his behalf and continues the investigation.

In those two time periods, Eyben goes in search of a ghost. She walks the streets she walked, tries to find a letter, locates an agenda, talks to people who knew her, sniffs around her perhaps hectic sentimental life. And what emerges are vague clues, echoes of the past: a Chrysler convertible, a certain Sancho, a summer, a lake, an aspiring actor... Shadows, snippets of memory, memories that time distorts or erases. Who is Noëlle Lefrebvre, the woman on the run, the vanished woman? And who is Jean Eyben, the man who follows in her footsteps, the man who lives haunted by her absence?

Welcome back to Modiano territory, that scenario made of words in which the author explores the labyrinth of memory, in which questions often lead to new enigmas. An absorbing novel, pure literary virtuosity of a master who, book by book, refines his style, adding nuances to a universe whose center is Paris as a real and mythical space at the same time, although here it is joined by Rome, the city in which to evaporate...

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