The book ends in much the same way it has been going for the last couple of hundred pages. Things start to unravel a bit for poor old Ferdinand as he burns yet more bridges and heads back to Paris with funds running low and friendships few to mention. As the book moves to a finale his link to past experiences Robinson is killed and he ends up drifting like the barges on the Seine with no idea of where to go.
Bullet points from pages 396 – 509
* He is asked to stay on in Toulouse for a bit longer so Robinson can show him the sights but he overhears his friend and fiance saying how loathsome Ferdinand is and how is as a bad influence probably on drugs and a sexual animal
* Following that Madame Henrouille falls down the stairs in the crypt and rather than go and help herFerdinandd sneaks off and heads back to Paris.
* Back in the capital he hooks up with Parapine, a doctor he had consulted about Bebert’s typhoid, and gets a job working with him in an asylum
* The boss of the asylum likes Ferdinand but starts to believe that Parapine is mad and a type of person that is harbouring potentially dangerous thoughts and plans he gets Ferdinand to teach him English then leaves him in charge of the asylum as he tours the world
* Robinson arrives having walked out on his fiance, Madelon, but is worried she might tell the police he tripped up the old woman and killed her
* Sure enough Madelon arrives and after Ferdinand has got involved, attempted to soil her relationship with further sexual advances, she has a row with Robinson in a taxi and after he refuses to go with her she shoots him twice in the chest
* Robinson dies and the tale ends with Ferdinand being comforted by Sophie, his latest sexual interest, and ending up watching the dawn rise on the banks of the Seine and as the barges blow their horns and head up stream he describes them saying to each other and Paris that it is the end of things and then the curtain is brought down on the book
It has not been an easy read and so even trying to describe the climax of the book it is hard to get across a sense of action because it does not involve Ferdinand directly, he is a witness. Possibly that is a metaphor for his entire existence – that he is not directly involved in the action enough – it reminds you that from the very start he had to admit to himself that he was a coward. Both him and Robinson were cowards but in the end his friend had the courage to provoke his own murder leaving Ferdinand without direction.
Will post a full review tomorrow…