The quest of a French mother who abandons her perfect family to seek mysterious affairs and mystical forces; Edmee seems to lack for nothing. Her adoring husband is a handsome engineer and the very image of the cosmopolitan European. She has two beautiful children and she lives in California. But all is not as it seems. Edmee has taken to sneaking pickles in the middle of the night. Her daughter Claudie shines with a rather disturbing inner knowledge. And Edmee's anxiety attacks can reduce her to tears at any moment. Choice of the Elect follows Edmee through the serio-comic adventures that ensue when she deserts her husband. Though her act appears selfish, Edmee - with Claudie in tow - believes herself to be on a holy mission, and over the years she takes up with mysterious lovers and finds success in Hollywood as she continues her quest. Yet as time passes, her devotion to Claudie is answered with rejection. Edmee is now living down and out in San Francisco and having taken to opium she comes to wonder whether this is tragedy or just desserts, and whether those who are holy must pay for being elect. Though he is remembered today as a playwright (The Madwoman of Chaillot, Ondine, and Tiger at the Gates), it was Giraudoux's novels that earned praise from such authors as Gide, Proust and Colette. Choice of the Elect, Giraudoux's last novel, shows off his brilliant wit, deep insight into human nature, and his remarkable blend of the serious and the comic.
Jean Giradoux (b. 1882) combined a career as an avant-garde novelist with work as a diplomat. Known for his Wildean wit-"Only the mediocre are always at their best"-Giradoux later won an international following as a playwright. His novels include Les Provinciales (1909), Suzanne and the Pacific (1921), and My Friend from Limousin (1922). He died in 1944, perhaps by poisoning, in Paris. Henry Russell is a linguist, teacher, and translator of European and Latin American literature. He has taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a professor emeritus at Northeastern Illinois University.