I can’t recall where I heard about this book, but I wish I did so I could thank the blogger who pointed me to such a brilliant discovery. This book had everything I was in the mood for when I picked it up: books, whimsy, mystery, Paris and a fair dose of extraordinary circumstance.
The story begins with a woman who is mugged outside her apartment building one evening. Having lost her keys, phone and money, she is thrust into a chain of events that will change the course of her life – but that’s all to come.
In the meantime, we switch perspectives to Laurent. Laurent owns a small bookstore in the same neighbourhood as the crime. One morning on his way to work, he discovers a purse that has been abandoned outside his store. He attempts to take it to the police, but when he arrives the wait is too long and he has a bookstore to open. Deciding to return later, Laurent proceeds to work, taking the purse with him.
He ends up looking in the purse for some clue that might help him return the purse directly to its owner. But as he begins to investigate each of the items contained in by the bag, he becomes more and more intrigued by the owner, a woman whose name he doesn’t know, and who he has never met.
This is the kind of story I like – it’s not complicated, and yet it becomes so through the actions of its characters. It’s also filled with a sense of possibility – that some small decision or event in our life could very well be the beginning of something wonderful.
As I was reading I couldn’t help but think of my favourite French film, Amélie. Not only do the two begin with a found object and a search for its owner, but they both take place in Paris and both have a similar feel to them. There’s something optimistic and rose-tinted in both stories.
The Red Notebook is a great vacation read. It’s the sort of book you could take for an afternoon on the beach and finish by the time you packed up your towels and sunscreen to head home. It’s an easy book to get into, but it’s full of small moments that will make you smile. It’s also got plenty of details most book lovers will respond to – encounters with famous authors, beloved books, a bookstore – even a friendly cat for those who believe that nothing goes with a good book like a cup of tea and a purring cat.
Heroic bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street. There’s nothing in the bag to indicate who it belongs to, although there’s all sorts of other things in it. Laurent feels a strong impulse to find the owner and tries to puzzle together who she might be from the contents of the bag. Especially a red notebook with her jottings, which really makes him want to meet her. Without even a name to go on, and only a few of her possessions to help him, how is he to find one woman in a city of millions?
The Red Notebook has already been sold in twelve different languages. French TV is making a film of The President’s Hat and the movie rights of The Red Notebook have been sold to UGC.
Antoine Laurain was born in Paris. He is the author of five novels, including The President’s Hat. – Goodreads
Author: Antoine Laurain
Published By: Gallic Books
Released: April 7, 2015
Genre: Fiction, Paris, Character-Driven
Date Read: July 12-15, 2015