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My Wish List
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|My Wish List
By Grégoire Delacourt
Translated by Anthea Bell
Publisher: Viking and Penguin Books
Pub. Date: March 25, 2014
This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
According to me, lots of very recent French novels are:
- written in a very punchy way, with lots of short incomplete sentences (I mean for instance without any main verb)
- quirky and ultimately depressing
My Wish List, just released today, fits perfectly the bill! And I loved it! Could be because I’m French, but I am glad to see that several American readers do enjoy this style. I think this is incidentally a great way of widening one’s reading horizon by discovering another type of writing.
Jocelyne, in her 40s, learned to forget her dreams long ago and be content with her simple life with its usual amount of problems. She owns a haberdashery shop –or millinery shop as I was told we would call it in the US. And she has a very popular knitting blog.
Her husband works in a factory. He follows his dull life thanks to his beer and his very low dreams (such as a flat-screen TV).
Jocelyne is friend with the twins Françoise et Danièle, who own the hair-salon next door to her own shop. They play the lottery every week and finally manage to encourage her to play as well.
She makes a list of all she could get, if that money were hers. But Jocelyne is aware that life is made of lies, and she is afraid that money might bring even more lies.
What do you think could happen if she won, if she did get that money? How much do you think her life could be changed?
You will have to read the book, because with interesting twists and turn it will lead you to something you didn’t expect.
I really enjoyed a lot the writing style of Delacourt, masterfully rendered in American. The translator did dare keep the present tense. It may seem weird to some American readers, but know that the French use a lot the present tense in novels. I think it’s good the translator kept it.
It definitely gives the English speaking reader a more accurate image of the characteristics of French writing. Why would everyone espouse the same writing style? Jocelyne herself says:
I love it when words sometimes hide what they’re saying, or say it in a new way.
Dialogs are integrated into the narration, another common element of French current writing. It makes things much more punchy and fluid. Here is a good example:
And what are you going to do with all that money, Jocelyne, do you have any idea? That’s just it, Papa, I don’t know. What do you mean, you don’t know? Anyone would know what to do with a sum like that. You could have a new life. But I like my life as it is, Papa. Do yo think Jo would still love me as I am if he knew?
I thought the male writer did a great job at conveying his female heroine’s dreams and fears, and the nitty-gritty of lots of financially speaking struggling French people.
VERDICT: My Wish List is a powerful reflection on life, happiness and lies included. It portrays how money can do or undo your life. This is the perfect short novel to get yourself acquainted with modern French fiction at its best.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
A cathartic, charmingly tender, assuredly irresistible novel, MY WISH LIST (Penguin; ISBN: 9780143124658; On-sale: March 25, 2014: $15.00) imagines one answer to the question: If you won the lottery, would you trade your life for the life of your dreams? With sales of more than half a million copies in France alone, rights sold in twenty-five countries, and a major motion picture in development, this slim yet spirited tale has sewn up the interest of the literary world.
Jocelyne Guerbette is a forty-seven year old who runs a modest fabric shop in a nondescript provincial French town. Her husband—instead of dreaming of her—wants nothing more in life than a flat-screen TV and the complete James Bond DVD box set. And to Jocelyne’s two grown-up children, who live far from home, she’s become nothing but an obligatory phone call. Perpetually wondering what has happened to all the dreams she had when she was younger, Jocelyne finally comes to terms with the series of ordinary defeats and small lies that seem to make up her life.
But then Jocelyne wins the lottery: $25,500,000! And suddenly she finds the world at her fingertips. But before cashing the check, before telling a soul, she starts making a list of all the things she could do with the money. While evaluating the small pleasures in life—her friendship with the twins who manage the hairdresser next door, her holidays away, her sewing blog that’s gaining popularity—she begins to think that the everyday ordinary may not be so bad. Does she really want her life to change?
MY WISH LIST is an essential reminder of the often-overlooked joys of everyday life and a celebration of the daily rituals, serendipities, and small acts of love that make life quietly wonderful. [provided by the publisher]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Grégoire Delacourt was born in Valenciennes, France, in 1960.
His first novel, L’Écrivain de la Famille, was published in 2011 and won five literary prizes.
MY WISH LIST has been a runaway number-one bestseller in France; publication rights have been sold in more than twenty-five countries. Delacourt lives in Paris, where he runs an advertising agency with his wife.
HAVE YOU READ ANYTHING BY THIS AUTHOR YET?
AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WON THE LOTTERY?
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