I read Cosmétique de l’ennemi for an assignment in university. Amélie Nothomb was on a list with a number of writers from different nationalities for a class on foreign literature. I was hesitating between this book and Perfume by Patrick Süskind. But I already read that one, so I decided to go for something new. I read it in the original French as instructed (though I might’ve thumbed through the Dutch version afterwards).
It’s not an easy read however, though that has nothing to do with the language. It’s quite a difficult, psychological thriller. There are a few twists and turns, and they are brilliant!
The story is set in an airport terminal and basically, the entire story is two guys talking. Jerome, a young businessman, is in the airport, about to go on a business trip. He is approached by another man named Texel, who continuously harasses him and who insists on talking to him. Jerome tries to ignore Texel, moves seats a few times and does his best to get away from Texel.
The majority of the book exists of dialogue between Jerome and Texel and I found it quite funny in the beginning. Jerome replies very sarcastically and the back-and-forth definitely made me laugh. But then it started to get a little creepy. And then a lot creepy. Eventually, Jerome can’t take it anymore and he goes off. He grabs Texel’s head and repeatedly bashes it against the wall, killing him.
That escalated quickly, right?!
Well, turn the page to the epilogue and you’ll be even more surprised! I doubted for a while whether I should reveal what’s in the epilogue or not. I usually have no qualms about spoilers and my reviews generally outline the entire story, beginning to end. However, in this case, I did so as well. I outlined the story from beginning to end, I just did not include the epilogue. If you want to know the most exciting twist in the story, I advise you to read the book yourselves.
If you read the book already, what did you think? Did you like the twist in the epilogue? Also, did you read it in the original French or a translated copy? Let me know in the comments!