The List of my Desires by Gregoire Delacourt
|The List of my Desires by Gregoire Delacourt|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Inescapably French, this is an interesting story about our deepest desires and whether money can ever buy happiness.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: July 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
Jocelyne is in her forties, married to Jo, and mother to one stillborn little girl and two twenty-something children who have grown distant from her with time. She owns a haberdashery shop in the small town where she lives, and she's writing an online blog which is growing in popularity. Although there have been bumps in the past, with her violent husband struggling with their little girl's death, the early death of her mother and her father's debilitating stroke her life is now reasonably stable and at the start of the story she seems, on the surface, to be happy although one suspects that beneath the veneer there are unresolved issues for Jocelyne.
I don't really want to tell you what it is that changes Jocelyne's life - you should read it to find out! Suffice it to say an event sufficiently dramatic occurs to make her re-evaluate everything, all her relationships, her past, her future, and leads to her considering what it is she truly desires.
I was surprised to discover, at the end, that this book is written by a man. I don't think I'd paid sufficient attention to the cover to see his name before I began reading, and because of the pretty, button-laden cover design I'd automatically assumed this was a book written by a woman! I think, then, that he does rather a good job of getting inside the mind of a middle aged woman. I certainly believed in her as a character. Not that that means I always liked her, because I didn't, but she rang true as a female character. I did find her a little frustrating though. Her decisions, or rather her indecision, became irritating to me and so when the inevitable tragedy occurs I did think to myself, very briefly, that perhaps she had brought this upon herself!
The story feels very French. I'm not sure exactly what it is that gives it that French flavour. You can tell it's a book in translation, even though it's beautifully translated, but somehow there's something about the characters that oozes French-ness, if there is such a word! It's a lovely, quick read. The chapters are short, enticing you to read just one more, late into the night, and it's a fairly short book overall that fast readers could probably polish off on an uninterrupted sunny afternoon.
The story felt like it was going to be positive and upbeat initially. I felt like I might be reading a redemptive tale, with a happy ending that would leave me smiling. I think what I hadn't taken into account was that this story is French, and nothing ever happens quite the way you think it will in French literature and movies. The ending turns out to be, in fact, very sad. There's some sense of hope lingering on the surface, but I felt that again underneath that top layer was a deep feeling of loss and sorrow. I found myself to be thoughtful, and a little distressed as I closed the final page. It will certainly leave you with a lot on your mind.
It's interesting to think about people's desires and wishes, about what we'd wish for in material possessions and also with regards to life dreams if anything were possible. I liked the issues the story prompted me to think about, although I didn't always agree with Jocelyne's feelings. It would probably make a good book for a reading group to discuss over a glass of wine or two. Overall, I came away with mixed emotions. I think if you're prepared for this to not be the happy ever after ending that the pretty button cover promises then you'll probably enjoy it more than I did. I found it an engaging, easy and fast read, but just felt a little sadder than I'd expected to at the end!
Another interesting French book in translation to try is Will You Be There? by Guillaume Musso
You can read more book reviews or buy The List of my Desires by Gregoire Delacourt at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The List of my Desires by Gregoire Delacourt at Amazon.com.
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