Book review – Mygale
French novella basis for movie The Skin I Live In
Thierry Jonquet‘s Mygale, first published in France in 1995, is the inspiration for The Skin I Live In. The latest movie from Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodavar, The Skin I Live In is premiering at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and stars Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya. The actual English translation for “mygale” (MIG-uh-lee) is “tarantula”, but Almodovar’s title makes sense too.
But to say anymore risks spoiling the movie – Mygale‘s story has a twist that puts it in the same league as The Sixth Sense and The Crying Game (or, more recently, the 2009 thriller The Double Hour). What can be said about Mygale, Jonquet’s novel (City Lights Noir issued an English translation in 2002), is that it’s lean – at 129 pps, it’s more of a novella; I read it in a day – tight, suspenseful and thought-provoking in its themes of identity and loss. Also, it’s a revenge thriller, of a sort; although the form the revenge takes may be the most interesting aspect of the book.
There are only three main characters, though a fourth figures prominently; it’s set in the French countryside; and though the plot relies somewhat on a humdinger of a coincidence, the reader can let this go considering the context and denouement. The best known book (outside of France) by Jonquet, who wrote over 20 novels and died in 2009, Mygale should make for a movie that will have people talking.