And voila, Antoine Laurain delivers with The Red Notebook.
Deciding on a summer reading selection was difficult. Ultimately, selecting Laurain's 2014 title, in French known as La femme au carnet rouge, was an excellent choice.
The book has a simple premise. You find a women's purse, what do you do? Laurent, the main character decides to do "the right thing" and makes his way to the police station. Ah, the wait is too long, so the purse goes home with Laurent. Laurain describes expertly the universal awkward way these female apparatuses are held by men, as if something may crawl out the handled vessels and bite them on the arm.
Perfume, a cartouche, lipstick, a stone, barrette, dry cleaning receipt and other various items he dumps all on his apartment floor. These owner's totems intrigue Laurent, but it is the red notebook that tugs at his heart, leading him on a search that, well, you can probably guess what happens from there.
But it doesn't matter. This light mystery, told with vision binoculaire and Paris as a backdrop, uses sublime items and interesting--maybe creepy--characters to create a wonderful novella that works as in elixir and escape from hurricanes, political or otherwise.
As always, lots was learned in researching this small book. Who knew about Sophe Calle, Jean Patrick Modiano, Alain or Alain (Ernest-Auguste Chartier). I surely didn't! Obviously, I am not Academie-francaise-ready. C'est la vie, I loved the book. Discussing these individuals and their roles in the book, gave context to a Floridian whose knowledge of French elan is limited. It also revealed what is important to our author. Little book. Big discussion.
Is stuff important? Are we nostalgic for what we've never had? Should we meet individual whom we've built in our minds--and don't ask Sophie Calle? Where is the line between romantic quest and plain creepy stalking? Should a father pretend to be his daughter's girlfriend? The Red Notebook is a novella with universal appeal. We have all lost something dear. We have all found something lost. How do we react? Do you really want to know what ris de veau is, because I will tell you. And what are the chances that daughter Chloe's cat is named Putin? Five points for Chapter Endnotes for being on the pulse of world events without even trying!
Merci Beaucoup to author Antoine for a complete, albeit petite biblio-treat.
Leaving Paris an getting back to Jacksonville, our Fall 2018 season is upon us. The 2018-19 title selections will be posted by Friday, tout suite!
Do you a question about The Red Notebook? What is your favorite Great American Read?
Let me know.