Conjugal Love Alberto Moravia
imho the entire plot, as well as the characters of Leda (the wife) and Antonio (the cuckolding barber), are nothing more than a framework that Moravia constructs on which to hang a portrait of a completely failed man. A man who, in existentialist terms (and it's completely an existentialist novel) has no authenticity, who merely exists but does not live his life. In this case, he examines his life (or better his behavior, not exactly the same thing since behavior is just the observable manifestation of what's going on inside a person) incessantly, 24/7. Instead of living he thinks about living, makes up stories -- excuses -- about his behavior, thinks incessantly about himself but uses all these thoughts and stories in order to avoid ever connecting with himself. Instead of being and living, he tells stories about what he does. In the end, faced with the crisis of his wife's betrayal, he cowardly retreats from any emotion, doesn't even talk about it with his wife (much less the barber), and just continues his inauthentic, empty, meaningless life.
A great novel, wonderfully written, can be read in one evening, and should be enough to scare any reader into abandoning whatever phony acts the reader may be using to fool himself and/or those around him, and instead dive into and thus create a real life for him/herself.