Amélie Nothomb: Riquet à la houppe [Riquet with the Tuft]


The latest addition to my website is Amélie Nothomb‘s Riquet à la houppe [Riquet with the Tuft]. This is a modern updating of Charles Perrault’s fairy tale Riquet with the Tuft. We follow the story of the two who we know are destined to meet, fall in love and live happily after. He is Déodat, son of a former dancer, who gives birth to him (her only child) when forty-eight and the chef at the dance school. He is very ugly but very intelligent. He manages to adapt to his ugliness and, indeed, succeeds in having a series of short-term affairs when he gets older. He takes a keen interest in birds and becomes a professional ornithologist. She is Trémière, very beautiful but not very bright. She struggles at school and her stupidity is taken for aloofness when she is older. Her one (very) brief fling gives her a negative view of the opposite sex. Both, however, do very well in their careers and are destined to meet on a TV chat show. Nothomb seems to be moving towards updated fairy tales which, as she says in an afterword, almost always have a happy ending while great literature generally does not have a happy ending. This is not great literature but it is a well-written and enjoyable tale.

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