Saturday, 7 February 2015

Staying with the French theme

Book review: The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain

My top book of the year in 2013 was the wonderful President's Hat and for the past six months or so I have been periodically tweeting with the publishers (@gallicbooks) about if and when the next book by Laurain is due.

Persistence paid off last week when the very nice team at Gallic Books popped an advance copy of The Red Notebook into the post for me.  Luckily I am up to date with my studies as I'm afraid all work instantly stopped and I plunged straight into the book...and pretty much didn't surface until it was finished.

The light whimsical tone of the President's Hat remains but this time the book is more contemporary and features a wonderful protagonist, Laurent, who runs a bookshop in Paris.  One morning he discovers an abandoned handbag in the street and decides to set about finding who it belongs to.

The story is part mystery, part family story and part love story and all the strands work beautifully with each other - you can see the disasters looming but Laurain, and his translators, don't overplay anything and the story feels real as well as very much like a modern fairy tale.  

I loved it, the book is different to The President's Hat - possibly a little more mainstream and conventional - but it is still a fantastic read for anyone, and for those with a little French knowledge some of the wordplay is fantastic but the humour totally works without knowing this extra layer!

Many thanks to Gallic Books for sending me a copy so early - the book isn't published until 14th April - and for letting me talk about it in advance of publication.

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