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La consolante Consolation La Consolante was the bestselling French novel in 2008 with sales of over half a million copies and translations into thirty two languages Darker and complex than Hunting and Gathering Ensemble c’est tout but just as dazzling the second novel by the enchantress Anna Gavalda tells a heartbreaking unusual story about one man two remarkable women and an unforgettable transvestite A 47 year old successful architect hears about the death of a woman whom he once loved – Anouk the tragically big hearted mother of a childhood friend and his life starts to unravel Charles seems to have everything but turns his back on the present to go in search of her past and his childhood falling a long way down One day he finds himself on a Paris pavement covered in his own blood But as the title suggests fate holds out a final chance of consolation – when far from his Parisian milieu he meets Kate an enchanting young woman herself damaged but fearless and in love with life Alive with wit and vivid observation sparkling dialogue and brilliant characters this is a triumphant spellbinding finally consoling novel about life love and second chancesThe French title is what players of boules call the consolation play off match between the losers OK I can't go on reading this It's just dire I didn't expect it to be a masterpiece but I bought it cheap paperback fortunately because I enjoyed Ensemble c'est Tout it was a pleasant undemanding read Many of the reviews on fr said that the first 300 pages were hard going but it got better Well yes they were hard going But then it got worseSome French reviewers whinged about the grammar and structure in the first part lack of personal pronouns making it hard to follow mingling of past and present Well I got that The style reflects Charles' state of mind But why was this part so loooooong? And dull? And repetitive? We already know as much as we need to about Charles after 50 pagesPart 2 the depressive Charles covered in facial scars from a contretemps with a car in a Paris street visits childhood friend Alexis who has one of those nauseatingly cute bright children that Hollywood specialises in It's pretty unbelievable that le petit Lucas instantly adores Charles and follows him everywhere But hey let's carry onThen the charming baba cool Kate is introduced and this is where things go seriously downhill She pours out her entire life story to Charles in one implausibly coherent seven hour conversation No spoilers here but her melodramatic history just smacks of an author's desire to create a handy situation for her characters to fall in love free of encumbrances Gavalda is obviously keen to experiment with style in this book; a later cutesy authorial intervention extracts from Charles's sketchbook and the really annoying franglais conversations finally drove me to flip to the end and then toss the book away in disgust The ending is of course blindingly obvious although I admit I didn't predict the exhuming of a coffin Oh and while I was page flipping I spotted a cameo appearance of Franck and Philou from Ensemble c'est Tout which was probably fun for her but added nothing to the plotSelf indulgent overlong over written stock characters banal plot There are just too many things wrong with this book Dear Anna please read some Alice Munro and learn how a good writer can pack insight and truth into a story of 30 pages than you have into a slab of 600 This one is hard to read from the beginning I wanted to put this book down than once but as I was waiting for my connecting flight at the airport and had no other book on hand I kept on reading for a few hours and am so happy about it This book gets you and is such a book about love love and love And about a midlife crises and how you can really live your dreams even if its the difficult way to live It is beautiful written from the middle to the end and I really was sad when I finished it This is a rather odd book It reminds me of Elizabeth Goudge and Rumer Godden because nothing really seems to happen but there's a story there that's awfully compelling This is a story about life falling apart and coming together About life and death and living despite being dead and the slow decaying death that is a meaningless life of going through the motionsThere's a main character a man I don't particularly like and who I thought very little of until I reached the almost end of the book There's Anouk who haunts the book peeking out of corners where you didn't expect her to be There's Claire the man's sister who's hard to pin down but could have an entire book written about her as well there's that much hidden depth to the character There's Alexis who moves from one extreme to the other over the course of his life There's Mathilde the man's sort of daughter who's here and there and rather like Little Women's Jo with appendages in odd places and in that not uite fitting stage of adolescence And then there's Kate and the village of childrenI would love to have been one of Kate's children I would have loved to have grown up there though really would I? I don't know for sure And really Kate forms the center of the novel as she forms the center of the children's lives all the while slipping out of the frame with Anouk in the distance behind herI don't uite know how to define this book because like Anouk and Kate it keeps slipping out of my grasp and going where I don't expect it to go This book tortured me for about 2 weeks No it's brilliant it's captivating but it hits right in the weakest point of the reader This book is about each of us and none of us Characters Charles his work in Moscow how funny how sad I love Gavalda's books but so far this is the one I'm endlessly in love with her style Short sentences but so full of irony so full with love

  • Paperback
  • 473 pages
  • La consolante
  • Anna Gavalda
  • English
  • 10 March 2014
  • 9780701183523

About the Author: Anna Gavalda

Anna Gavalda is a French teacher and award winning novelistReferred to by Voici magazine as a distant descendant of Dorothy Parker Anna Gavalda was born in an upper class suburb of Paris While working as French teacher in high school a collection of her short stories was first published in 1999 under the title Je voudrais ue uelu'un m'attende uelue part that met with both critical acc


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