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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain

I'm in love with The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain.  Seriously.  I am smitten with his words, his characters, and his Paris.  His book transported me to a Paris I have always imagined - the cobblestone streets where I would wander, the hot chocolate I would dip my warm croissant in, the tiny book shop crammed full of books that I would never want to leave, the well dressed women whose fashion ensembles I would try to emulate, and the handsome Frenchmen reading Sarte and Modiano outside on a park bench.  All of these things that make up the France I want to visit are within reach when I read Laurain.  I can taste, smell, hear, and see it all.  His words encapsulate a world that I have always imagined.  And the strange thing is that he does not describe the scenarios I have envisioned.  Nope, his book is about a man looking for a woman - and yet, the Paris he lives in comes alive on the pages he's written.  I have to say that when I put the book down I couldn't help but smile and declare it to be "very French" - as if I even know what that truly means.

As for the story, it is absolutely terrific.  A tale of a man searching for a woman he dreams about.  Laurent finds a handbag and decides to look for its owner.  This decision winds up changing his life in so many ways.  The decisions he makes, the people he meets, and the future he envisions make for quite a delightful read.  As for the woman, well, she was mugged (which is how her handbag wound up sitting atop a garbage bin) and is in a coma.  I know! Not exactly what I had thought would happen. Then again, she does wake up and finds out that a stranger has been feeding her cat.  Hmmm...I wonder who? 

However, Laurent decides he can't meet Laure (the woman) after everything he's done (like pretending to be her boyfriend).  So, he leaves her handbag in her apartment with a note of apology for all of his trespasses.  Except, he can't stop thinking about Laure. He dreams of meeting her, kissing her, being with her, and ultimately falling in love with her.  He is enamored by this mysterious woman and her handbag filled with perfume, stones, photographs, and a red notebook filled with her musings (I'm scared of birds (especially pigeons).  I like sleeping on trains.  I'm scared of red ants.)  And when a customer at his bookshop asks him "Do you have La Nostalgie du Possible?", Laurent winds up pondering a different question instead - "Are you nostalgic for what could have been?"  He realizes that he most definitely is. 

I won't tell you whether or not he ever meets Laure, just know that you will be left with a smile once you are finished reading.  The Red Notebook is truly a special read.  Its whimsical, delightful, and just an absolute treat to read.  It was the perfect book to kick off Paris in July.  Of course, now I have to read more of Laurain's works.  I've just ordered his bestselling book, The President's Hat.  I can't wait to read it!

And now, I'm off to read some blog posts - I want some inspiration for Paris in July.  Adieu!

18 comments:

Lark said...

This book sounds so good! I have it on hold at the library...and now I'm hoping my copy comes in really soon! :) Love the review.

Lisbeth Ekelof said...

Sounds great ! It seems to be one of these titles that pops up everywhere these days. I have to try it too.

Monica's Bookish Life said...

I'm not familiar with Antoine Laurain's books, but this looks like something I'd like. I love the cover of the book, too.

Louise said...

This book sounds utterly delightful. I have The President's Hat sitting in my TBR but I don't think I will get to it this month. Still I'm sure that I'll enjoy it when I do. I'll keep an eye out for a copy of The Red Notebook too.

Nadia A said...

Lark, it really is! Check it out - you will LOVE it!! Thanks :)

Lisbeth, I know what you mean - I'm seeing it everywhere now. Definitely check it out!

Monica, I love the cover and the story - you will, too! This was my first Laurain, but it won't be my last.

Louise, it is delightful - you will LOVE it. I just started The President's Hat and am already in love with it. I think you will definitely enjoy both books when you get to them :)

Nari @ The Novel World said...

I loved the Red Notebook too! I just finished it yesterday morning. Its incredibly engrossing. You'll love the President's Hat when it arrives. Its just as entertaining, but with a lot more variety in characters and stories. Its just a shame his books are so short. He does have a way with words.

Nadia A said...

Nari, it was totally engrossing - I didn't want to put it down! I just started reading The President's Hat and already love it! And I know what you mean - why are his books so short! I hear he has a few more, but they haven't been translated into English so I can't read them - I may have to learn French :)

mel u said...

This sounds like a wonderful book. This event makes me wish I was in a cafe in Paris.

Nadia A said...

Mel, it is wonderful! And, I know what you mean - I feel the same way :)

bermudaonion said...

I've read several great reviews of this book and need to bump it up my list.

Molly Totoro said...

You have convinced me that I NEED to read this book!

Arabella said...

I keep hearing good things about The Red notebook, think I need to add this to my list of books to look for. I just read something slightly similar in that involved the main character finding a thumb drive with a mysterious diary on it, as he reads he falls in love with writer.

Nadia A said...

Kathy, definitely move it up your list - you are going to LOVE it!

Molly, you do NEED to read it - ASAP! :)

Arabella, I agree that you need to add it to your list :) The book you mention sounds intriguing.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Oh my! Must add it to my wish list! Thank you!

Paulita said...

This sounds delicious. I've already ordered it for my Kindle. French books and French movies rarely end as they would in the U.S., which, I suppose is annoyingly positive and upbeat. Here’s my Dreaming of France meme

Nadia A said...

Deb, add it ASAP! You will LOVE this book!

Paulita, it is delicious - one of my new faves!

Beth said...

I see this every time I visit my local bookshop and always think it looks fascinating. I think I need to get it because sometimes you just need that heartwarming, atmospheric story to break up all the other reading that usually isn't that (or for me at least). By the way, I haven't been on in so long but I love your new banner photo!! And I'm glad you enjoyed it - you can tell you really loved it in this review!

Nadia A said...

Beth, I'm glad you stopped by :) Thanks! I love that banner photo as well. You should definitely read this book - it will melt your heart. Such a great read! I absolutely loved it to bits. I've recently finished another of his books and it was even better than The Red Notebook. Laurain is amazing!! Definitely check out his work ASAP - you will be so happy you did :)