Short summary - Froth on the Daydream - L'Écume des jours
The protagonist of the novel, Colin, a very sweet young man of twenty-two, who smiles so often with an infant smile that it even gave him a dimple on his chin, is preparing for the arrival of his friend Shik. Nicolas, his chef, conjures in the kitchen, creating masterpieces of the culinary art. Schick is the same age as Colin and is also a bachelor, but he has much less money than his friend, and, unlike Colin, he is forced to work as an engineer, and sometimes ask for money from his uncle, who works in the ministry. The apartment at Kolene is remarkable in itself. The kitchen is equipped with wonderful devices that perform all the necessary operations on their own. The bathroom sink supplies the Knee with live eels. Lighting from the street does not penetrate into the apartment, but it has two of its own suns, in the rays of which a small mouse with a black antennae plays. She is a full-fledged inhabitant of the apartment. She is fed and taken care of touchingly. Colin also has a "piano cocktail" - a mechanism created on the basis of a piano and which allows playing one or another melody to get excellent cocktails from alcoholic beverages. At dinner, it turns out that Aliza, the girl with whom Chic has recently fallen in love, is Nicolas's niece. She, like Chic, is fond of the work of Jean-Sol Partre and collects all his articles.
The next day, Colin goes with Shick, Aliza, Nicolas and Isis (a common friend of Colin and Nicolas) to the skating rink. There, due to the fault of Kolene, rushing towards his friends across the board, a lot of small things happen. Ishida invites the whole company on Sunday to her not a party that she throws on the occasion of the birthday of her poodle Dupont.
Colin, looking at Shik, also wants to fall in love. He hopes that at the reception with Isis, happiness will smile at him. He actually meets a girl named Chloe there and falls in love with her. Their relationship is developing rapidly. The matter is going to the wedding. Meanwhile, Aliza begins to feel sad, as Shik believes that her parents will never agree to their marriage due to his poverty. Kolene is so happy that he wants to make his friends happy too. He gives Shik twenty-five thousand of the hundred thousand that he possesses so that Shik can finally marry Alize.
Knee's wedding is a success. All admiringly look at the performance, which is given in the church by the Superior, the Drunkard and the Priest. For this event, Colin pays five thousand inflankas. Most of them are raked by the Superior. The next morning, the newlyweds drive south in a luxurious white limousine. Nicolas this time acts as a chauffeur. He has one very unpleasant, from the point of view of Colin, feature: when he puts on the uniform of a cook or a chauffeur, it becomes absolutely impossible to talk to him, since he begins to speak exclusively in ceremonial and official language. At one point, Colin's patience breaks, and, being in his room in some roadside hotel, he throws a shoe at Nicolas, but gets out the window. Through the broken window from the street, the winter cold enters the room, and the next morning Chloe wakes up completely sick. Despite the caring care of Colin and Nicolas, her health deteriorates every day.
Meanwhile, Schick and Aliza attend all Jean-Sol Partre's lectures in the most zealous way. To squeeze into them, they have to go to all sorts of tricks: Shiku - to change into a doorman, Alize - to spend the night in the ass. Colin, Chloe and Nicolas return home. From the very threshold, they notice that there have been changes in the apartment. The two suns now do not flood the corridor as before The ceramic tiles have faded and the walls no longer sparkle. A gray mouse with a black mustache, not understanding what the matter is, only spreads its paws. Then she starts rubbing the tarnished tiles. The corner shines again, as before, but the paws of the mouse are bloody, so Nicolas has to make small crutches for her. Colin, glancing into his safe, discovers that he has only thirty-five thousand inflankas left. He gave twenty-five to Shik, fifteen cost a car, the wedding cost five thousand, the rest went to trifles.
Chloe feels better the day she returns home. She wants to go to the store, buy herself new dresses, jewelry, and then go to the skating rink. Shik and Colin immediately go to the rink, while Isis and Nicolas accompany Chloe. When, while skating, Colin learns that Chloe is bad and she fainted, he rushes home headlong, on the way with fear thinking about the worst that could happen.
Chloe - calm and even enlightened - is lying on the bed. In the chest she feels someone's unkind presence and, wanting to cope with it, she coughs from time to time. Dr. d'Hermo examines Chloe and prescribes her medication. A flower, a nymphea, a water lily appeared in her chest. He advises to surround Chloe with flowers so that they dry the nymph. He believes that she needs to go somewhere in the mountains. Colin sends her to an expensive mountain sanatorium and spends huge amounts of money on flowers. Soon he has practically no money left at all. The apartment is getting more and more dull look. For some reason, twenty-nine-year-old Nicolas looks at all thirty-five. The walls and ceiling in the apartment are shrinking, leaving less and less space.
Chic, instead of marrying Alize, spends all his inflankas given to him by Kolin to purchase Partr's books in luxurious bindings and old things that allegedly once belonged to his idol. Having spent the last that he has, he informs Alize that he cannot and does not want to meet with her anymore, and puts her out the door. Aliza is desperate.
Colin asks Nicolas to go to work as a cook for Isis's parents. It hurts Nicolas to leave his friend, but Colin can no longer pay him a salary: he has no money at all. Now he himself is forced to look for work and sell his piano cocktail to an antique dealer. Chloe returns from the sanatorium, where she underwent surgery and removed the nymphea. However, soon the disease, spreading to the second lung, resumes. Kolen now works in a factory that uses human heat to grow rifle barrels. The trunks at Knee are jagged, and a beautiful metallic rose grows from each trunk. Then he enters the bank as a security guard, where he has to walk along a dark underground corridor all day. He spends all his money on flowers for his wife.
Schick was so carried away by collecting Partr's works that he spent all his money on them, in particular those that were intended to pay taxes. A police seneschal with his two assistants goes to him. Aliza, meanwhile, heads to the cafe where Jean-Sol Partre works. He is currently writing the nineteenth volume of his encyclopedia. Aliza asks him to postpone the publication of the encyclopedia so that Shik can save money for her. Partr refuses her request, and then Aliza tears the heart out of his chest with a heart-cutter. Partr dies. She does the same with all the booksellers who supplied Shik with Partr's works, and sets them on fire. Meanwhile, the cops kill Shik. Aliza, on the other hand, dies in the fire.
Chloe is dying. Colin only has enough money for a funeral for the poor. He has to endure the bullying of the Superior and the Priest, for whom the amount he offered is not enough. Chloe is buried in a distant cemetery for the poor, which is located on the island. From this moment on, the Knee begins to weaken from hour to hour. He does not sleep, does not eat and spends all the time at Chloe's grave, waiting for a white lily to appear above her to kill her. At this time, the walls in his apartment close, and the ceiling falls to the floor. The gray mouse barely has time to escape. She runs to the cat and asks to eat it.