Saturday, July 30, 2016

"The Red Notebook," by Antoine Laurain

Thank you, B., one of my very favorite people with whom to talk about books, for your recommendation of the delightful (and delightful is the perfect word here) French novel, “The Red Notebook” (Gallic, 2015), by Antoine Laurain (translated into English by Emily Boyce and Jane Aitken). It is a small book, a lovely romp. The story is that a young Parisian woman, Laure, is mugged, and a bookshop owner, Laurent, finds her beautiful mauve-colored bag on the street, minus money and identifying information. He tries to turn it in to a police station, but is given a bureaucratic runaround, so he starts looking for clues to her identity himself, using various objects in the bag as tenuous leads. So the story is a sort of mystery, with a bonus of reading about the various Paris locales depicted, as Laurent follows leads. Laure is obviously a book-lover, and some of the clues Laurent finds are literary, including a book in Laure’s bag signed by the famous but somewhat reclusive writer Patrick Modianao. Other characters include Laurent’s daughter, Chloe, and Laure’s co-worker and good friend William. Did you notice that the author’s name and those of the two main characters all include versions of “Laur…”? Well, you can guess where the story goes, but I won’t spoil it by telling you more here. You can read this slim novel in an hour or two, and I can pretty much guarantee you will be completely charmed in the process. Paris, books, a bookshop, an author, a mystery, a beautiful cat, and the hint of love in the air...what's not to like?
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