Notes on Sad Summer in Biarritz: the flip side of romance

Both men and women wish for a deep and lasting connection with someone perfect,

someone they can trust with their deepest secrets and darkest fantasies. And, unable find that ideal lover in real life, they seek it in fictional characters.


Romances are dreamy hopeful books, and we’d like to think that the stories they tell really can happen; that the dashing prince, the untameable rogue, the multi-billionaire alpha male will see beyond lifeless hair and a fat belly, discover a stunning woman who is far more desirable than any perfect specimen in a perfume ad.


But, real life isn’t a romance novel, and it is reality that I portray in Sad Summer in Biarritz. The heroine desperately seeks the perfect love story found in any romance book, but the more she seeks perfection — even expects it — the more disappointed she is bound to be. The men she meets in her quest are as lonely as she; they too have seen love’s disappointments. Even Dominique, evil, menacing, is also searching for perfect love — although his version means destruction of the beloved.


The other women in the story — Chantal, Micheline, Celine — disillusioned with the dull reality of daily life, equally seek romance, and unable to find the fantasy state, make do with what they find: Micheline creates an imaginary past with her married lover; Celine believes the thuggish Paul-Antoine is a romantic hero; and Chantal mistreating her husband and buying a younger man’s loyalty, ruins her chances for complicity and trust.


The only person with integrity is Vinnie, the young hopeful artist, but he can only be a victim, the scapegoat for the others with their dashed hopes and unhealthy ambitions.


Biarritz, too, known as a watering hole for the elite of another era, is, today, a noisy, busy tourist resort, and that earlier refinement is only faintly visible. But, as a has-been, it is the perfect setting for failed romance.


As negative as this portraiture seems, all is not doom and gloom. The narrator does extricate herself from the situation in an satisfactory way; and although we have no details — we aren’t told if and how she manages to realise her dream of love — we realise that the sad summer in Biarritz, was only one short moment in a full life.




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