Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Book - "Delicacy" by David Foenkinos

So last month - or was it the month before (time goes so fast these days!) - the book club of which I am a member chose to read Delicacy by David Foenkinos. I must say I haven't enjoyed a book this much in a long time. I read through it in a few days, although admittedly it's pretty short.

The book was originally written in French, but the English translation is very good. It is the most quirky and eclectic book I've ever read, and I can't quite figure out if this is because it was first written in French (and let's face it, the French are pretty quirky) or if it's the author's style. 

I loved every page. While reading it, I was constantly stopping, giggling and then reading out sentences to Luke, such as:

"After their last exchange, he'd left slowly. Without making a sound. As unobtrusive as a semicolon in an eight-hundred-page novel." 

Love it! Is that a French saying? If not, it should be! It was like the book version of Amelie, which makes sense because that's French too.

This novel has incredibly short chapters. (Take note authors, this is a great way to get readers glued to your book. "Oh what, a chapter over already, I'll just read another one or 3.") Also, every second chapter is a kind of separate literary item which refers to something in the previous chapter. For example, the characters order risotto at a restaurant and the next chapter will be the recipe for the risotto; or they go to a play and the next chapter is a scene from the play. I loved this - it's such a neat idea and somehow really made the story come alive.
Anyway, I suppose I'd better also tell you the basic storyline: Natalie meets her future husband in one of the serendipitous must-be-fate moments on a street in Paris. Strangers become lovers, and as a reader you feel the lovers' bliss radiating off the page until Fran├žois is suddenly killed by a car while on his Sunday morning jog.

Natalie goes into shutdown mode, as if her marriage and happiness were too good to be true. She becomes reclusive and throws herself into her work, creating a barrier between herself and everyone who loves her. However, one day she impulsively kisses Markus, a colleague at work. Markus is the antithesis of Natalie. While she is smart, classy and sophisticated, he is awkward, clumsy and a bit of an oddball. Markus immediately falls hopelessly and helplessly in love with Natalie. However, he is not the only one with his eye on her; their boss has also been quite taken with her for some time.

Yes, there is a film, which I have yet to see. But even without watching it I can tell you the book will be better. There is no way you can possibly translate the subtle, quirky, and of course delicate nature of this book completely on to the screen. 

More favourite quotes:

"Then what were they going to talk about? You can't change context with a snap of the fingers. They'd be like two butchers at a vegetarians' convention."

"Markus left the office feeling as stunned as the sun during an eclipse."

"Lately, Natalie had almost forgotten that Charles existed. He was like an old telephone number, an element that no longer jibes with the times."
Until next time :)

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