Review | The Blouse by Bastien Vivès

1/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: silk blouses, affairs, college classes, babysitters, birthday parties, game nights and neglectful boyfriends.

A student of Classical Literature at the Sorbonne, Séverine is neither beautiful, ugly, brilliant, nor mediocre. The young woman lives a banal existence, without brilliance but without drama, alongside a companion who pays her less attention than a television series or video game.

After babysitting, she is given a silk blouse that will mysteriously change her life. From that day forward, men give her a different look, loaded with desire. Does the garment have a magic power? Séverine doesn’t know, but she finds that it gives her confidence. And it allows her to take destiny into her own hands…

With the grace and the sensuality which he has in particular already demonstrated in “A Sister”, Bastien Vivès draws a new female portrait completely adult and contemporary in “The Blouse”.

I’m struggling here. Maybe I simply don’t understand what this book is trying to achieve, but I’m feeling conflicted about (what I think) the message is.

So in this book we follow a plain Jane named Séverine. She doesn’t stand out in any way, shape or form… until she puts on a silk blouse. Then all of a sudden she becomes a sex bomb. And not only that, but her personality changes just like magic. First she’s very shy, does not smoke and is very quiet. After putting on the blouse, she starts smoking, starts cheating on her boyfriend and “interacts” with strangers with confidence.

When I started reading this book I was shocked with some of the things I was reading, so I started taking notes to talk about them later in my review. I quickly realized I was wasting my time, because it kept getting worse and worse. The first scene that made me icky was when she was babysitting the girl and she pulled her pants down and they talked about her “butterfly” (like they said, not me). I just remember thinking “okaaay… this is pretty weird”. And it just escalated from there (fortunately not with kids anymore). 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind steamy scenes. As a matter of fact, I’m an avid romance reader and I love good romantic scenes. But the amount of vulgarity and cheating in this book made me uncomfortable. Especially that scene when she was in the car and some guy appeared close to the window… What in the world was that?

Now, here’s the thing: I think it’s important to know that this book is originally French, and I can see how this book would be more easily accepted with the French book community because of the strong cultural influence it has. And I’m not talking just about the setting of the story being in France, but also the way the story is written and presented. From everything I’ve experienced when I was in France, I know they talk a lot about topics like sex and periods more freely than in other places, and I completely understand that may be weird to other people. I remember how shocked I was when I saw a commercial on tv about period pads, and they “showed” vulvas and blood on the commercial. I think there’s a possibility that if you’re from another country and you pick up this book, that you’ll find some of the things here a little shocking, so keep that in mind!

I personally don’t mind simple artwork, but this was particularly underwhelming to me. The color scheme and drawings were just okay. Nothing too interesting to look at, in my humble opinion. Not bad, but also nothing stood out.

Am I the target audience for this book? Maybe not. Still, I believe the story is probably underwhelming and weird for everyone – but that’s just my opinion.

A big thank you to NetGalley, ABLAZE Publishing and Diamond Book Distributors for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review

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