Brilliant young editor Delphine and her aspiring author boyfriend Frederic visit a peculiar library in Crozon, France – one that houses the failed manuscripts of authors destined never to be published.
With an eye for these things, Delphine spots a hidden masterpiece penned by none other than the town’s now deceased pizza chef, Henri Pick, a taciturn fellow never seen to read a book.
The plot, as they say, thickens. A media frenzy ensues and the book, entitled The Last Hours of a Love Affair, is published and becomes a sought-after bestseller.
Henri’s widow is dismayed by how her silent, hardworking husband could have found the time to write a book. His daughter, Josephine, revels in the limelight.
Literary critic Rouche smells a rat and launches an investigation into the identity of the writer. Original librarian Gourvec seems to have a curious past and his protege Magali’s life is turned upside down.
This is a delight. The tone is light and playful, the mystery intriguing and gently teased out. The many peripheral characters have their lives altered radically by the book’s publication.
Old hurts resurface, histories and misconceptions are exposed and truths uncovered. Each character is brought strikingly to life; we feel their frustrations, heartbreaks and unreasonable irritations.
Delphine sails through the book, holding it together, bantering lightly and seeing her project through to fruition.
This novel, translated from the French, doesn’t miss a step. Insouciantly Gallic, it breathes a little absurd fun into a few evenings’ reading. A treat.