"The List of My Desires"

The List of My Desires by Gregoire Delacourt

Jocelyne is a middle aged woman operating a dressmaker's shop in a small town in France. She is married, has 2 grown children, writes a blog about knitting and is, in her own opinion, ordinary. An ordinary woman living an ordinary life - until something extraordinary happens: she wins the lottery. Realizing that eighteen million euros will surely change everything about her life, she finds herself afraid to cash the cheque and instead folds it up and hides it in a shoe in her closet.

One day she looks for it and it's not there. Her husband is away on a business trip. He'd been extra attentive lately and she'd been enjoying their new closeness and thinking how life was good just as it was. They didn't need the money and all the changes it could bring. When she tries to contact him at his hotel, they have no record of him being there. Without being told, she knows exactly what has happened.

I loved almost everything about this book, especially the fact that so much of it happens in Jocelyne's head. It's not a mystery or a thriller and there's not a lot of action. It's a philosophical look at money and marriage and what happens when the two collide. The spare writing style, the restraint with which the characters are written, and the way the author makes the reader feel what Jocelyne feels all add up to an excellent story. If I had any complaint it would be that it's too short. It didn't take long to read and I wanted more. I wanted to know what happened later, after the last chapter, so for me, the ending was rather unsatisfactory. It wasn't a badly written ending, it just came too soon.

The beautiful writing has been compared to that of "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" and I did find the spare style similar, but "Hedgehog" is one of my all time favourite books and, although I liked this one a lot, I don't think it quite comes up to that standard.


Anonymous said...

I read this book last year around this time and I loved it. I'm hoping they're will be a follow up book, but I doubt it. Have you heard of The President's Hat (le chapeau de Mitterrand). It's also a short, but well written book.

Ordinary Reader said...

No, Nari, I haven't heard of The President's Hat but I'll check it out. Thanks!

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