The arrival of a letter delayed by 33 years sparks off a quest that leads both on a nostalgic journey back to the 1980s and right to the heart of France today.
Middle-aged doctor Alain Massoulier has received a life-changing letter thirty-three years too late. Lost in the Paris postal system for decades, the letter from Polydor, dated 1983, offers a recording contract to The Holograms, in which Alain played lead guitar.
Overcome by nostalgia, Alain is tempted to track down the members of the group. But in a world where everything and everyone has changed…where could his quest possibly take him?
This is the third novel I’ve read by French writer Antoine Laurain and it certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact I was so keen to get my mitts on it that I contacted the UK publisher to find out the NetGalley release date.
Like with the other two books (The President’s Hat and The Red Notebook) French Rhapsody deals with loss, in this case the loss of a letter that arrives 33 years too late to make any difference, or so the main player Doctor Alain Massoulier thinks. In tracking down the lives and loves of his former band members he gets more than he bargains for and in a funny twist of fate changes the course of more than one timeline mentioned. The book is told from a variety of view points and some of them with startle you. Irina, the Russian er model/call girl for one – but believe me his inclusion of minor voices is what ties this all together in one extremely fancy package. I don’t know where he gets his ideas from, just as I love how his writing is presented.
The writing is strong and very current with frequent references to both French and world wide politics. Laurain has a talent for delving into the absurd and the comedic elements are laugh out loud funny, so don’t be tempted to read in public places!
If you are a Francophile this is a fun light read with plenty of humour, pathos and plot. If, like me you spend a great deal of time in France and understand some of the French nuances of both culture and past times this a must read. There is a fair bit of political reference but it must be remembered that it is a work of translation.
Antoine, thanks for the great read – when’s the next one out?
Available to pre- order from Amazon here