David Foenkinos' book, La délicatesse, or Delicacy, has polarised critical opinion. There seems to be no lukewarm reaction to this little book. In fact those who didn't like it, used lukewarm and insipid amongst their objections.
Those who loved it, and I am among them, appreciated the simple, straightforward and yet at the same time, quirky writing style. Sometimes I had tears in my eyes and sometimes a smile as Nathalie's story unfolds. A romantic encounter and ensuing marital bliss bathes the first 31 pages of this short book. Page 32 changes everything when Nathalie's husband François is hit by a car and killed while out on his Sunday jog. The rest of the book recounts her descent into a long period of darkness as she mourns François and the life they had together.
Just when it seems as though no one will break through her shell, she discovers Markus, an awkward Swedish man she works with. After a few ups and downs necessary for the reader to really engage and hope that love will conquer all, the ending is happy.
When I describe it like that, the book does sound slightly predictable and saccharine. But sometimes it's not the story that counts but the way the story is told.
I have previously expressed my admiration for writers who paint feelings and ideas in such a way that I hold my breath reading them and want to archive their words in my head and my heart. David Foenkinos produced many such phrases in this book.
<<On peut finalement se demander si le hasard existe vraiment? Peut être
que toutes les personnes que l'on croise marchent dans notre périmètre
avec l'espoir incessant de nous rencontrer? En y repensant, c'est vrai
qu'elles paraissent souvent essouflées>>
"We may finally ask ourselves whether coincidence really does exist.
Maybe everybody we run into is walking around near us with the undying
hope of meeting us? To think of it, it's a fact that they often seem out
And there is a film. With Audrey Tautou. One of my favourites.