The Baby of Belleville by Anne Marsella
|The Baby of Belleville by Anne Marsella|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Katie Blow|
|Summary: An entertaining and upbeat read set in the suburbs of Paris, following Jane de Rochefoucault through her journey of early parenthood and everything else which life decides to throw at her.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: July 2011|
|Publisher: Portobello Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Jane de Rochefoucault, an expat living in Paris with her aristocratic husband, is just an ordinary mother fighting her way through the challenges of early parenthood from nursing to itsy-bitsy-spidering. However, Jane's life certainly isn't all about diaper-changing and Tupperware. Far from it. When three of her Muslim friends decide to organise a highly dangerous slave emancipation Jane is forced to rely on her family's history of law-breaking and dodgy contacts to make sure the plan succeeds. And on top of all her maternal and culinary responsibilities Jane becomes the interpreter/secretary/personal shopper for a celebrity intellectual employer which isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Through detailed diary entries the reader is invited into Jane's imaginative and rather bizarre world to witness the highs and lows of being a new mum, as well as a suspected terrorist and the daughter-in-law of a militant Communist and devout Catholic. The individual storylines which weave together are original yet sometimes confusing, shrouded in wit and a linguistic parade of words and names that I was not familiar with.
Whilst this book did have me scratching my head in confusion on occasions there were also times that it had me smiling and nodding in agreement. But I should warn you that the randomness of the storylines may take a little while to get used to.
Despite some of the wit being lost on me and once I had grown accustomed to Jane's flowery narrative and her habit of going off on a tangent, I actually began to enjoy the book. It is light-hearted, amusing (when you understand the wit) and very imaginative. I can safely say I have never come across a book like this before. The Metro describes it as a novel that resists easy categorisation and perhaps it was this lack of conformity to typical genres which had me initially put off.
The narrative is full of humour, acute descriptions and colourful characters. And amid all the wit and linguistic playfulness Marsella captures the special mother-baby relationship beautifully. Whilst Jane takes her role as mother very seriously she is also not afraid to laugh at herself and the trials she faces as a new mother such as sleep-deprivation, Laughing Breast Syndrome and erratic nap routines.
Although it took me a while to feel at home in the quirky, imaginative and lively world of Belleville, once I had settled in I found myself enjoying the ride and the characters you meet along the way are certainly difficult to dislike.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
Further Reading: The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy by Fiona Neill
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Baby of Belleville by Anne Marsella at Amazon.com.
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