Anne Philipe wrote this moving book after the premature death of her husband, actor Gérard Philipe, at age 37. It is written to him, telling him how she felt when she learned his illness was terminal and why she decided not to tell him. She wanted him to live his last months and days in happiness instead of in fear and despair. Memories of their life together are intermingled with those of the grief she lived through.
Her telling of loss made my heart tighten in pain and swell with a kind of love.
As far as I can see, Le temps d'un soupir is not available in English, which is regrettable, as its theme is universal and the author really speaks from her heart. I wish my English-speaking friends could read it.
Although I wanted to make this post very brief, while proofreading it, I ended up looking up quotes from the book, wanting to find one to share with you. Many are so beautiful, but rather sad, all alone, without their context of love and other words surrounding them; or too long. I chose this one:
I asked how it was possible not for me to live but simply for my heart to continue beating after yours had stopped.
Je demandais comment il était possible non que je vive mais simplement que mon coeur continuât à se battre après que le tien se fut arrêté.