I’ve just finished “Delicacy” by David Foenkinos, and is translated from the French.
I pretty much read it in 2 sittings (having to go to work really cuts into reading time!) and i did read it fairly quickly, but it was actually quite good! This was a spur-of-the-moment purchase as i was in WHSmith and they had a Buy-One-Get-One-Half-Price offer so this was my choice (the other book was “How to be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran).
The blurb reads:
“He was passing by, she kissed him without thinking. Now she wonders whether she did the right thing. But Natalie isn’t certain of anything anymore. One minute she was a happily married young woman, successful in her career, and convinced the future was full of promise. But when her husband was run over by a car, her whole world was turned upside down. Years later, still bruised with grief but desperate to move on with her life, she impulsively kisses her colleague Marcus. For Natalie, the kiss is just a gratuitous act. For the awkward, unassuming Marcus, it is the moment at which he falls hopelessly, helplessly in love. But how will he ever convince such a beautiful, intelligent but confused young woman that he is the man who can bring her back to life?”
Natalie is quite a romantic character, beautiful and intelligent. Men are attracted to her but she seems unaware of the effect she has on them. By chance, she meets her husband in the street and they develop a relationship that is easy-going and loving, and it seems to be the envy of many of their friends. Then disaster strikes and she throws herself into her work, unable to live any other way. She becomes the object of her boss’ affections (and, later, his obsessions) but she isn’t interested. One day she kisses a co-worker, Marcus, with no idea of why she did it. This begins Natalie’s re-awakening after so many years of grief and distance from everyone around her, particularly men.
Marcus is an interesting character: He is a Swede, with an odd but charming sense of humour, who falls in love with Natalie after that first unexpected kiss and tries to win her heart. He is more deserving of Natalie than their boss, Charles, who tries to ruin their relationship.
The book is fast-paced at the start: It starts with Natalie meeting François (her future husband) for the first time, then rushes through their relationship from engagement to marriage and up to the point where François is killed. Then it slows down, almost to mirror Natalie’s grief-stricken life after the death. The important focus of this novel is obviously the relationship between Natalie and Marcus, and it is an interesting twist on an office romance. Their co-workers obviously want the gossip about the pair, but are disappointed by the couple’s indifferent attitude. I actually got a bit annoyed with the gossip-mongers! It is clearly a delicate (to reference the title of this book) matter, with Natalie trying to move on from her grief and find happiness with a new man, and this new relationship starts in a very delicate way as it has no real foundations, but it is stronger than it seems. The ending is quite sweet and fitting for such a story.
I didn’t think it was a very French book, but maybe i have a different feeling about what makes a book French! It is a nice easy read, and deals with some very real issues though. The short chapters cut the story up into manageable bites, although it didn’t really need to. The chapters are segmented with outside contextual information, such as what characters were eating when they out at dinner, which adds extra content to the book, although i daresay it’s not wholly necessary to the story.
I give this book 7/10 because it is a good read and quite an original twist on a office romance story. It’s not really my thing as it is a bit sickly sweet but i quite enjoyed it and would recommend it if you like chick lit. It is also one of the easiest translated novels that i’ve read to date! (Or maybe i just subconsciously choose the most difficult ones!)
This book has been made as a film (hence the film tie-in the cover on my copy) which i haven’t seen, but i’m considering it as it would be interesting to see how it comes across in a visual format.