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ANNE-MARIE THE BEAUTY by Yasmina Reza
Translated by Alison L. Strayer
Like many readers, I came to Yasmina Reza via the stage. Wyndham’s Theatre in London, to be exact. Way back in 1998. Knowing nothing about the play, I bought a ticket to see Art because it starred Richard Griffiths and Tony Haygarth. I was smitten before the curtain fell. In the twenty-five years since, I’ve read many of Reza’s plays and novellas and enjoyed almost all of them. It was a particular pleasure, now, to find her returning to the world of drama, albeit in prose form, with Anne-Marie the Beauty.
Anne-Marie is a grand old dame of the French silver screen. Or at least she believes she is. As a teen she tasted fame but, unlike her best friend, Giselle, her star never really rose. Now, towards the end of her life, she reminisces on her glory days, desperately clinging to a friendship that ceased to exist years ago. For the reader it’s a wistful and melancholic affair, as if Sunset Boulevard was dictated by Barbra Hershey’s character in Beaches. And yet for Anne-Marie, full of grandiose, self-defensive delusion, it is all rather splendid. There is joy and wonder in her sad life. And maybe even dignity.
Anne-Marie the Beaty by Yasmina Reza (Tr. Alison L. Strayer)
Seven Stories Press, 2021