Friday 17 April 2015

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain

Bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street, and feels impelled to return it to its owner. 
The bag contains no money, phone or contact information. 
But a small red notebook with handwritten thoughts and jottings reveals a person that Laurent would very much like to meet. 
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 by Antoine Laurain was published by Gallic Books in paperback on 5 April 2015, and was translated from the French by Emily Boyce and Jane Aitken.

A short story, a novella, a novel?  The Red Notebook has only 159 pages, so I guess it could be described as any of these, but there is no doubt that it is a beautifully written, heartfelt story that really captivated me from the very first page.

It's a simple tale. A young woman; Laure is attacked just outside her apartment in Paris, the mugger flees with her handbag. The next day, her handbag is found abandoned on the top of a rubbish bin by local bookseller Laurent. Nothing in the bag can identify the owner, but inside there are lots of very personal items including a small red moleskin notebook containing the random thoughts of the owner.

Laurent is intrigued, and becomes determined to find the woman who has lost her bag. Meanwhile, the reader becomes aware of what is happening to Laure, and to go into too much detail would spoil this really charming little book.

Laurent is a delightful character, he's determined and a little bit stubborn. He takes risks and at times he can be a little selfish, although I really don't think he means to harm anyone. The reader learns so much about both Laurent and Laure, and whilst I'm not big on romance, here is a couple of characters that I was really rooting for, and hoping so much that they would find each other.

So, do they? Well, that's not for me to tell, please do go out and buy a copy of this refined and elegant story. It transports the reader onto the streets of Paris alongside wonderful characters who form part of a really delicious story.

My thanks to Sophie at ed public relations who sent my copy for review.

My friend Josie who blogs at Jaffa Reads Too has also reviewed The Red Notebook - please do go and take a look.

Novelist, journalist, screenwriter, director, collector of antique keys, Antoine Laurain was born in Paris in the early 1970s. After studying cinema, he began his career directing short films and writing screenplays. His passion for art led him to take a job assisting an antiques dealer in Paris. The experience provided the inspiration for his first novel, which was awarded the Prix Drouot in 2007.

Published on the eve of the French presidential elections of 2012, Antoine Laurain's fourth, fairytale-like novel The President's Hat was acclaimed by critics, readers and booksellers, who awarded it the Prix Landerneau Découvertes. It also won the Prix Relay des Voyageurs, a prize which celebrates the enjoyment of reading. The President's Hat has been adapted for television in France.

In the UK, The President's Hat has been a Kindle top 5 bestseller and a Waterstones Book Club choice. In the USA, Antoine Laurain was selected for the ABA's 'Indies Introduce Debut Authors' for Fall 13.
His next novel, The Red Notebook, was published in spring 2015.

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