GOODBYE, TRITESSE: Lessons of happiness from French literature by Viv Groskop book reviewer


It’s always a pleasure to meet another Francophile, especially one as engaging, intelligent and witty as Viv Groskop – a distinguished British writer, journalist and actor. His latest book is a heartfelt and beautifully written love letter to France and French literature in which Groskop introduces the reader to his twelve favorite French writers – from Françoise Sagan to Albert Camus, Hugo, Flaubert, Maupassant and d ‘others.

The origins of Groskop’s “Francomania” can be traced back to her adolescence when she visited France as an exchange student. It was then that she first came to a life-changing conclusion: “If you want to be happy, you better be French. Fluent in French (and a voracious reader of French literature), she quickly contracted this contagious and lucrative French. faintness called Joy of living and has so far been brilliant in disseminating it among its readers.

Inspired to start learning French by Jacques Demis’ iconic musical “Umbrellas of Cherbourg” as a teenager in the 1960s in the USSR, I completely agree with Groskop when she says “he there is a boast in French thought which is not shared by other cultures.

Alongside the countless witty one-liners – always precise, punchy and worthy of a stand-up concert – are personal, but still precise, analyzes of Groskop’s favorite French classics. I like the way she sums it up jokingly Nice friend, the most famous novel by Guy de Maupassant, such as: ‘the bigger the mustache, the bigger the fall’, and the novel by Françoise Sagan Hello Sadness like: “Interfering in your father’s love life can have disastrous consequences”.

Groskop’s irrepressible spirit aside, his perception of France is also deeply romantic, reminiscent of the Russian-born writer Andrei Makine. In his novel, winner of the Prix de Goncourt The French Testament, he refers to France – both geographically and emotionally – as the mysterious and distant “Atlantis”, where “presidents die in the arms of their mistresses”, the land whose melodious language “beat in us, like a magical graft implanted in our hearts’.

All writers know that books work best when they’re written about something the author likes. Viv Groskop’s latest book is a good example.

To summarize in French: Goodbye Sadness ! Long live literature!

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