26 May 2014

Read it forward: My Wish List

The great pleasure of a local bookstore is the hidden treasure that an enthusiastic bookseller presses into your hand. This particular book, "My Wish List" is on bestseller lists in Europe, however I might not have found it elsewhere and I promise you, this is a true gem.

A slim novella with unpretentious prose and powerful subtext, the stream of consciousness narrator, one Jocelyne, married to a man named Jocelyn, lives in a small town in France where she owns a sewing shop and blogs about cloth and textures and threads. "TenGoldFingers" [perhaps a nod to Midas] has growing list of devoted followers who evolve into Jo's cheering squad and support network, and one might say the true fabric of her life.

Harboring the sadness of a lost child, her husband's subsequent despair and betrayals, and the painful memory of her mother's sudden death when Jo was just a girl, she nevertheless cherishes her life, more than most, so much so that when she wins the lottery, she tells no one and never cashes the huge check because she fears the compromises riches will make.

"I think of myself, of all that will now be possible for me, and I don't want any of it."

We follow Jo as she struggles with what she might have done with the money if she took it - from buying her husband the Porsche he has always wanted to giving away a million dollars to a worthy individual or treating herself to all the James Bond movies on DVD - and as her husband heals and becomes more appreciative and her children and friends thrive and she more and more delights in her uncomplicated life.

She tells only her father about the lottery, a man with dementia who remembers for only six minutes at a time, so he is safe with secrets, and his inability to share his daughter's dilemma is an especially poignant aspect of the novella, beautiful interactions.

Of course, literature requires conflict, and nothing in a good story stays the same. However, even expecting the drama to unfold, we are startled, and moved, when the narrative arc shifts and our lovely protagonist is thrust onto an unexpected path. What can you do when your life is torn apart and all the wealth on earth will not repair the damage?

Gregoire Delacourt
This is the first novel translated from the French by this author and I'm told a film will soon arrive, from France, thankfully, as they do better translating from the page to the screen.

A profound and exquisitely written fiction on the power of love and the perils of greed, I urge you to read it forward - buy the book and pass it on. And, if possible, read it in one or two sittings, as this is a tale to fall into and remain until it plays out. Perfect for a day at the beach or an evening on the couch. Happy reading.

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