What a surprise this novel was! I didn't really know what to expect. I had heard some good comments about it and it was on sale, so I got it.
Razor sharp satire, biting social commentary, mournful heartbreak and desolate tragedy combined with a soupcon of science fiction create a book of startling humor and rage and awareness and, well, shock.
less than ten years in the future, the story takes place with America
living through climate change unabated. It's not the keystone of the
book - but, it's always in the background. And the way the environment
is viewed, and traversed by the population ran incredibly true to
American form for me. The characters were all alarmingly familiar - as
I'm sure they'll be for anybody who grew up in the middle/upper middle
class neighborhoods of the east coast.
I can't even say more because I
feel that divulging any more details will spoil it for anybody who
picks this up...as I hope you do! I don't belong to a book club, but I
want to join one just so I can discuss this book with others!
If you follow my book reviews, you know that I rarely give a 5 ☆☆☆☆☆ rating, as I consider that a next-to-perfect book. That's how I feel about this one. I can't imagine anything that would have been an improvement.
While I was completely captivated by it - in fact, I just finished it after reading through the entire night without sleeping to get to the last word - I realize that this book is not going to be to everybody's taste. In fact, I can even imagine being in a different mood and not caring for it myself. I'm so glad that I was in a receptive move last night, because I was rewarded for it! It is at various times hysterically funny, heart-rendingly sad, extraordinarily fanciful, razor-sharp perceptive, and forcefully passionate.
I'm not going to re-write a mini-synopsis of the story when the advertisement synopsis does a perfectly good job of it:
Frances Price – tart widow, possessive mother, and Upper East Side force of nature – is in dire straits, beset by scandal and impending bankruptcy. Her adult son Malcolm is no help, mired in a permanent state of arrested development. And then there’s the Prices' aging cat, Small Frank, who Frances believes houses the spirit of her late husband, an infamously immoral litigator and world-class cad whose gruesome tabloid death rendered Frances and Malcolm social outcasts.
Putting penury and pariahdom behind them, the family decides to cut their losses and head for the exit. One ocean voyage later, the curious trio land in their beloved Paris, the City of Light serving as a backdrop not for love or romance, but self destruction and economical ruin – to riotous effect. A number of singular characters serve to round out the cast: a bashful private investigator, an aimless psychic proposing a seance, a doctor who makes house calls with his wine merchant in tow, and the inimitable Mme. Reynard, aggressive houseguest and dementedly friendly American expat.
Brimming with pathos and wit, French Exit is a one-of-a-kind ‘tragedy of manners,’ a riotous send-up of high society, as well as a moving mother/son caper which only Patrick deWitt could conceive and execute
If you're in the market for a quirky, non-stop roller coaster ride, I can't recommend it highly enough. If you enjoy Coen Brothers and Wes Anderson films, this is the literature version!
(¸.•´ (¸.•´) Tristan