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MisterHobgoblin

French Exit

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So there's a widow called Frances, whose husband Franklin may have been reincarnated into a cat called Little Frank, and she moves to France in a novel called French Exit. Can you see what he did? 

 

I loved The Sisters Brothers and Undermajordomo Minor - both cartoony and quirky. But French Exit seems to be grounded in real places. For a while it was not set in any particular time, until someone spent euros in Paris which fixed it in a narrow timespan. We're dealing with reality here - and it's not what we were expecting. 

 

This short little novel starts off with an intriguing premise: Frances is a rich and eccentric widow - she discovered her dead husband but decided not to report the death until she had got back from a skiing holiday. As you do. She has blown through all the money and now has to decide what to do. There is never any great mystery that she is going to head to Paris on a last hurrah before ending it all. Which is what she proceeds to do. 

 

Even though this is a short novel, it takes a mighty long time to read. It manages the rare feat of being both predictable and hardy to follow. New characters pop up without warning; new issues seem to appear without ever having started. Still, though, the book plods on to its inevitable conclusion - we have mystics, talking cats, a private detective, the Eiffel Tower - but nothing really joins up. There are gags for gags' sake - with an unfulfilled need for some kind of intrigue to hold it all together. With hindsight I should have stopped reading but I was just waiting for it all to click together. I should have known it wouldn't 

 

This is not the worst book I have read, but it is one of the most disappointing. 

 

**000

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I liked this more than you did, but for me it came together in the end since what happened there had the feeling of being the only logical conclusion.  And there were some very funny lines.  "Born to bore" and "I am comfortable not talking about it."

 

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Points for thought, I did get this last time in Dublin. 

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