A Woman, in Bed



By: Anne Finger

Simone sleeps with strangers. The most important stranger? Her husband Jacques. A love story spanning WWI to WWII in Paris.

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Categories: Adult | All Books | Fiction

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Simone sleeps with strangers. The most important stranger? Her husband Jacques.

A love story spanning WWI to WWII in Paris.


Simone comes of age in WWI. She comes into her own in WWII as part of the French resistance. Frequently, she abandons herself to lust— particularly to a man named Jacques. She leaves her first husband for Jacques and spends over a decade as his lover. They eventually marry, yet Simone still sleeps with strangers, her husband the most distant of them all. What is she seeking? Simone isn't sure. More than sex—a tenderness that lust can never fill. Just when her body feels most fragile, she meets Pierre, a much younger man, a novice at love-making, clumsy and overly emotional, a fool—yet there is something about him. A lifelong love story not between two lovers but between a woman and her body.


ANNE FINGER is a writer of fiction—both short stories and a novel—as well as of creative non-fiction. Her short story collection, Call Me Ahab, winner of the Prairie Schooner Award, was published in the Fall of 2009 by the University of Nebraska Press. She has had four other books published. Her short fiction has appeared in The Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Discourse, and Ploughshares. She has taught creative writing at the university level as well as teaching workshops in the community. She has also been awarded residencies at MacDowell, Yaddo, Djerassi, Centrum and Hedgebrook. She lives in Oakland, California.

3 reviews for A Woman, in Bed

  1. Kirkus Reviews
    “A woman comes of age—and then ages—against the backdrop of a changing France.When we meet Simone Clermont (nee Vidal, soon to be Melville), she has returned to her mother’s guesthouse, now a mother herself, leaving her engineer husband behind in Istanbul in order to protect their baby from the fevers that are going around in Turkey after the First World War. She is restless and unfulfilled, though not without appetites, and when Jacques Melville and his old university friend arrive at the Vidal doorstep seeking a room for the night, the course of her future is set in motion. What begins as an affair—both of them are married—gives way to an all-consuming passion and then a bohemian life together in Paris, Simone as the mistress, Jacques slow to disentangle himself completely from his wife. But even when they do marry, Jacques remains removed and unknowable; they are simultaneously deeply intimate and total strangers to each other. They are devoted but not faithful, parts of themselves and their lives untouchable by the other. Simone will be active in the French Resistance and witness the unspeakable; Jacques will take a mistress; Simone will find comfort in sex with other, also-unknowable men. But the men—and not just one-offs, but the ones who matter, Jacques and Simone’s late-in-life lover, Pierre, and even her beloved son, Marcel—are peripheral to the novel’s primary relationship, which is between Simone and herself. Finger’s writing about the female body—not the experience of looking at it but the experience of having one—is visceral. And it is that body—lush, pregnant, starving, aging, ailing—that is the driving force of Simone’s life. The rich poetry of Finger’s (Bone Truth, 1994, etc.) language sometimes veers toward the overwrought—occasionally, it feels like the novel may buckle under its own weight—but the book’s originality, and its boldness, makes it impossible to turn away. Ambitious and demanding; one of a kind.”

  2. Booklist Online
    Anne Finger’s story of a twentieth-century woman’s lifelong journey toward owning all of herself, including her illness, will appeal to readers of character-focused, highly detailed historical fiction.

    “Between world wars on the Côte d’Azur, young mother Simone meets a handsome stranger, a boarder at her family’s inn, just when her husband’s absence has become unbearable. A veteran of the Great War, a writer and academic, and a married father, Jacques thrills Simone with his superior intelligence and studied detachment. After Simone divorces and flees to Paris with her two children, securing her fate as Jacques’ mistress and, eventually, his wife requires patience. Moving through Simone’s activities working for the French Resistance in WWII and in many erotic affairs, the novel spans decades. By the time of the 1968 uprisings, Simone’s body has, it seems, begun to betray her. Initially written off as nervousness brought on by her son’s forced service in the war, Parkinson’s disease unpredictably takes hold of her movements and mind. Constantly foreshadowing events to come, Finger’s story of a twentieth-century woman’s lifelong journey toward owning all of herself, including her illness, will appeal to readers of character-focused, highly detailed historical fiction.”—Annie Bostrom Visit Website

  3. Wordgathering
    “A Woman in Bed transcends any attempt to confine it to a sub-genre. It is probably beyond dispute that a reader with a woman’s body is going to come away with the greatest appreciation for the novel. Still, the book has a great deal to say to any reader.”—Michael Northen

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