The First Thing You See by Gregoire Delacourt

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The First Thing You See by Gregoire Delacourt

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: If you were a young mechanic from a small French village and you opened your door one day to see a very famous, young Hollywood starlet standing on your doormat, you’d probably close the door and rub your eyes before you opened it again. Well Arthur Dreyfuss didn’t close his door. Oh, no. He invites her in and she is not quite all she appears to be. But then, neither is Arthur.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: September 2015
Publisher: W&N
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0297871026

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Arthur Dreyfuss is a fairly run of the mill young man. He likes big breasts, cars, Juplier beer and big breasts. He’s also rather keen on big breasts. A good-looking boy, even if he does say so himself

…like Ryan Gosling, only better looking

we will take him at his word, although one would had thought a better looking Ryan Gosling would have had his fill of Zepplin chested females so as to dilute his desire for them. In any event, I suspect his longings stem from the fact that a young mechanic living a quiet and uneventful life in a tiny village in rural France is unlikely to have a multitude of such femmes crossing his path in search of their daily baguette. That said, when Arthur one day opens his front door to find a rather distressed but undeniably luscious Scarlett Johansson on his doorstep, he does not question his luck. He invites her in. As you do.

But is Arthur really sitting across from the lovely Hollywood star? Her American accent is certainly a little bit tatty round the edges for Arthur’s money and what would Scarlett Johansson be doing in his particular neck of the French woods?

Interestingly, Scarlett Johansson tried to have this book banned. Seems like a good enough reason to read it, non? I didn’t, however, know about this little nugget of lore until after I had read the book and to be truthful with you, it might very well have made it slightly more interesting.

In reality, this was a disappointing read and I am, well, disappointed. The blurb says that this is a warm and witty novel about two fragile souls learning to look beyond the surface. I can’t for the life of me get that. I found Arthur to be possibly the shallowest and saddest boob-besotted twit I have ever met within the pages of a book. He would have been more at home in French version of American Pie and I’m quite sure he's not supposed to come across that way.

In any case, I’m perplexed at the book-banning angle; I can’t imagine how any famous actress – Ms Johansson or otherwise - might feel her reputation could be tainted in any way by being the imaginary featurette in this novel. Perhaps she was offended that the author assumed she would be attracted to a man like Ryan Gosling, only better looking. All of which is kind of beside the point, once you read the book.

Look, I don’t want to dissuade you from having a look at this novel, or suggest you don’t buy it - particularly if you have read any of the author’s other offerings. Whilst it may not suit the Anglophile market, it’s probably going to rip its way up the French bestseller list and rightly so. From a literary perspective, it’s odd enough to compete with the best of them, but from an I buy books to read on the tube/sunlounger/book club point of view, it’s not going to be satisfying enough.

The First Thing You See is a reasonable enough read, but we think you might prefer Consolation by Anna Gavalda which is rather funny and has more likeable characters.

Finally our huge thanks to the kind folks at W&N for sending us this copy for review. We also have a review of The List of my Desires by Gregoire Delacourt.

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Buy The First Thing You See by Gregoire Delacourt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The First Thing You See by Gregoire Delacourt at


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