A senior employee of a philanthropic organisation finds himself with the phone in one hand and the name ‘Violette Doranges’ in his thoughts, as though he’s just had a conversation with someone of that name, though he remembers no such thing, and knows no such person. In the subsequent days and weeks, the name of Violette Doranges crops up again and again; it turns out that she is a glamorous young socialite who moves in similar circles to the protagonist, though they’ve never knowingly encountered each other. Our man resolves to find a way to meet this mysterious woman, but doing so proves harder than he expected.
Early on, I thought I knew where Griffin’s story was going – his protagonist was not going to meet Violette; she’d always be nothing more real than a whispered name to him – and settled down for a dance towards and away from the revelation of Violette’s identity. But it was not to be so: towards its end, the story takes a turn that opens up the possibilities of interpretation, and leaves the tale alive in the mind for quite some time afterwards.