Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Train to Paris - Sebastian Hampson

In a railway café on the Spanish border a mopey Kiwi student, a refugee of a disappointing holiday experience, falls under the spell of an older, more sophisticated femme fatale.  She's French, married and carefree - and later, we discover, care-less! 

So begins Sebastian Hampson's modern, antipodean version of a Betty Blue classic love-noir.  Their relationship is unlikely, impetuous and just a little cinematic.  Hampson shows, no doubt watched every great movie from Last Tango in Paris to La Dolce Vita to find snippets of inspiration in his particular 'Kiwi' take on this genre.

Interesting is the 'Kiwi' lens, too.  Most of our books are about the New Zealander trapped in themselves, encased in the metaphoric and realistic landscape.  This time Hampson acknowledges the view, loves and aspirations of a naïve young man on his OE.  It's refreshing to see someone writing in instead of out of the Country, as Hampson views New Zealand from a distance, as a compass point not a state of origin.   

In falling for the woman at the station our young hero becomes 'The Other Woman", vulnerable to her whims, always seeking her love, while trying to remain aloof and unaffected.  There are many scenes in this literary movie where he is seduced by her playful girlishness and her womanly over - she is Lolita and Mrs Robinson represented by Lauren Bacall.  It's bound to all end in tears - or is it? and for whom I cannot reveal.  You must read that for yourself!

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