The narrator, a journalist who is passionate about cinema, investigates in a young female novelist. She is surrounded by mysteries, but this does not stop them from falling for each other as the investigation advances.
Their love story brings back painful memories for the narrator, who had an affair with the young Sarah Miller thirty years before. She died shortly afterwards in tragic circumstances during the turbulent period of 1968.
Sarah Miller was the daughter of Rachel Miller, a former actress of Russian descent, who made a career in Hollywood in the 1930s under the name of Susan Swinton. She mingled with the biggest names of the art scene of the time. Connoisseur of cinema, of magnetic faces and hidden beauties, the narrator remembers this forgotten star very well.
Did Sarah really exist? Is she not merely the face of a dream, the body of a phantasm? Did Rachel Miller illuminate the Hollywood screens? What is the narrator looking for, if it is not himself, through sleepless nights? Everything is but thoughts, poetry and mystery.
Le premier sommeil reminds one of the universe of films by David Lynch and by the surrealists. Troubling, sensual, dreamlike and melancholic, the novel mixes phantasm and reality. Apart from being a true-false sociological police investigation, where Hollywood actresses mingle with painters and forgotten poets, this novel is also a love story, a vibrating homage to cinema and literature, and to the eternal feminine.
Jean-Luc Douin is a journalist for Le Monde. He is the author of several works on cinema, and in 2004 he published an inquiry on the assassination of Gérard Lebovici, Les jours obscurs de Gérard Lebovici. Le premier sommeil is his first novel.