As Night Follows Day, is by french writer Pierre Moinot. I read the English translation by Jody Gladding, with Elizabeth Deshays. The French title was Le matin vient et aussi la nuit.
According to the book jacket, Moinot was born in 1920 and has been busy in a variety of fields his whole life; from literature, to politics, to military service. His first collection of short stories were published with help from his friend Albert Camus. He has won a number of literary prizes, and was inducted into the Académie Française in 1982. Good on you, Pierre Moinot.
ANFD is 200+ pages of prose poetry; a love poem written to the past. An ode to simple rural life in France, its simple pleasures, its sense of community, and its ties to nature. Moinot uses stunningly beautiful language in the mouths and minds of his characters to describe their village, its people, animals, houses, gardens and flowers. To provide some contrast to this gush-fest, Moinot gives his pretty little village a problem to deal with: a cold-blooded double murder. yeah, chew on that!
Each of the chapters is written from the point of view of one of the characters, so we get to look inside the thoughts of these varied, but cut-from-the-same-cloth villagers. Many share that powerful sense of community and love of nature, and close, supportive ties to their neighbors, but their personalities overlay these similarities in surprisingly different ways, and through them we hear stories of love, life, regret, longing, wealth, poverty, marriage, stress, pain, strength, innocence, youth, and what it is to grow old.
In the end, the murder mystery is actually a surprising small--even tiny--part of the story.
Its a painting. A song. A diary entry from the not-so-distant past. But not, on the whole, especially compelling as a novel. Lovely, yes, without question.
Save this one for dreamy lazing on the beach, or on a quiet picnic in the country, and pining for Europe's pastoral past.