Faber Members get 10% off their first order


Leïla Slimani

From the bestselling author of Lullaby, the prizewinning debut novel about all our attempts to discover who we are – deep down – and what we actually want.

9 in stock

Date Published
All orders are sent via Royal Mail and are tracked: choose from standard or premium delivery.

Adèle appears to have the perfect life. A respected journalist, she lives in a flawless Parisian apartment with her surgeon husband and their young son. But beneath the veneer of ‘having it all’, she is bored – and consumed by an insatiable need for sex, whatever the cost. Struggling to contain the twin forces of compulsion and desire, she begins to orchestrate her life around her one night stands and extramarital affairs, arriving late to work and lying to her husband about where she’s been, until she becomes ensnared in a trap of her own making.

An erotic and daring story – with electrically clear writing – Adèle will captivate readers with its exploration of addiction, sexuality, and one woman’s quest to feel alive.

Critic Reviews

Written in prose of elegant but never bloodless neutrality . . . [Adèle] leads readers through the labyrinth of desire into an understanding of solitude, isolation and the search for authenticity as our common fate.

Critic Reviews

No man would have dared write what she did. It’s an extraordinary first novel.

Alain Mabanckou
Critic Reviews

‘Slimani’s slender, elegantly written and translated novel is filled with such disturbing images, and her capacity to shock will come as little surprise to readers of her previous novel, Lullaby, which opened by revealing the brutal aftermath of the murder of two small children. And in that novel, too, she took us into the painful, tumbled vortex of female subjectivity, with its complex trade-offs between obligation and appetite, its desire for liberation tussling with the question of what that liberation might yield...Adèle is a tough read, but a bracing one; little concerned with reader-pleasing narrative treats, but provocatively enigmatic. Appearing to adopt the conventions of realism – despite being sparely written, it is filled with physical detail, from an encounter in a freezing back alley to the “immense black-and-white photograph of derelict Cuban theatre” that decorates a fancy Parisian apartment – it eventually becomes increasingly dream-like, the compulsions of its characters (and not merely Adèle) revealed as the manifestation of suppressed desires and dysfunction. And it is not a dream from which it seems immediately possible to waken.’

Alex Clark, Guardian
Critic Reviews

‘Slimani evokes the “prosaic vulgarity of these dismal couplings in unsparingly lucid prose, elegrantly translated by Sam Taylor. She finds images for Adèle’s howling loneliness in the objects and decor that witness her adventures....Slimani’s journey through the brambly gardens of lust has affinities with the libertine tradition of French prose. It nods to the tainted literary lineage of the Marquis de Sade...As the wayward wife of a dull medic,Adèle also pays inevitable homage to Flaubert’s Madame Bovary...Adèle tries to love her comfy rural prison. But the demons will not let her go. She dreams still of violent sex with unknown men “until they have driven out the sorrow, until they have silenced the fear that lurks deep inside her”. In taut, lithe prose, Slimani’s novel digs for the roots of that sorrow and that fear. Its clarity only deepens its compassion. Yet a sense of mystery abides. Out of that darkness, the “shadow” behind Adèle, Slimani has made a tender and troubling novel rather than a psychiatric tract.’

Boyd Tonkin, Financial Times
Critic Reviews

‘Although Adèle’s life follows the familiar cycle of an addict (deception, overdose, abstinence, relapse), this is not a novel about addiction. It would be too easy for Slimani to pathologise Adèle. Instead, she presents her compulsions as a sort of spiritual restlessness...Slimani is one of the few contemporary authors - along, perhaps, with Rachel Cusk and Deborah Levy - writing intelligently about motherhood today...the tight pacing and spare style that had readers hooked to Lullaby is still here. It might not have the same shock factor, but this quieter novel looks at loneliness, shame and the search for independence in a way that is just as thrilling.’

Louisa McGillicuddy, The Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

‘This pacey page-turner is an easy read that keeps you guessing about how Adèle’s fate will unravel, and while her destructive actions are often nightmarish, she’s a character that anyone who has ever felt a little unsatisfied with life should be able to relate to.’

Press Association

Leïla Slimani is the first Moroccan woman to win France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, which she won for Lullaby. A journalist and frequent commentator on women’s and human rights, she is French president Emmanuel Macron’s personal representative for the promotion of the French language and culture. Born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1981, she lives in Paris with…

Read More