Originally written in French, I was lucky to get my hands on a translated version of this intriguing book. I found Anna Gavalda’s writing to be graceful, gentle, and detailed, despite looking right into the heart of something that would otherwise revolt or depress you.
Her characters really come to life, flaws and all, through shared pain of past experiences, shared joy and frustration and kindnesses.
The story itself is about 4 people and how their lives come to overlap. Camille is doing her best to disappear. She barely eats, works at night as a cleaner and lives in a tiny attic room. Downstairs in a beautiful, ornate apartment, lives Philibert Marquet de la Durbellière, a shy, erudite, upper-class man with an unlikely flatmate in the shape of the foul-mouthed but talented chef, Franck. One freezing evening Philibert rescues Camille, unconscious, from her attic and bring her into his home.
As she recovers Camille learns more about Philibert; about Franck and his guilt for his beloved but fragile grandmother Paulette, who is all he has left in the world; and about herself. And slowly, this curious quartet of misfits all discover the importance of food, friendship and love.
As you can tell from the summary there are plenty of dark moments in this story, but there are also many happy moments. I enjoyed reading this, I have heard from others that they found it a bit slow. So if you like your books fast paced and full of action you might want to skip this one.