“Sometimes, when faced with an unexpected crossroads in life, we discover that for years we have been walking a tightrope, with no knowledge of whether we are stepping out over a void, or if there is anything – or anyone- strong enough to catch us underneath. And we realise that we do more for others than they do for us. Everything is expected of us.”
Lean on Me by the French novelist, Serge Joncour explores human connections, emotional struggles, and intimacy between two mature, seemingly different people, Ludovic and Aurore, who find unlikely love amid the urban landscape of the Parisian metropolis. This is a tale of uneasy relationship between two souls entering each other’s lives carrying the weight of their previous as well as current life experiences and obligations.
Lean on Me is a reflection of a life in a ruthless, harsh reality of a modern society where keeping up appearances is rewarded; and sincerity and following the guidance of one’s heart is often ridiculed, misunderstood or looked down upon.
Paris is also a protagonist in the book providing the backdrop to the story of Aurore and Ludovic. For some it can be a place of a further social exclusion, alienation and it can add to the emotional turmoil one goes through; for others the city might become a necessary inspiration and provide a refuge from other worries and troubles of life.
I very much empathised with a male character, Ludovic. His struggles with a modern world are very relatable. I wish his gentle demeanour, solitary soul and warm heart would become an integral part of the current social norms.
Lean on Me does not provide a reader with a romanticised love story or ‘a happily ever after’ ending. As Ludo and Aurore’s future together is unlikely, one wonders what is the point of such a relationship between two people? Maybe they are just vessels for one another to escape the harshness and brutality of the modern life for a few moments, and where the present moment is all what matters.
If you need some gentle reads amid the current chaos, I would very much encourage you to get a copy of Lean on Me by Serge Joncour published in English by Gallic Books
“Other people exist even in their absence.”