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The Mystery of Henri Pick

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In the small town of Crozon in Brittany, a library houses manuscripts that were rejected for publication: the faded dreams of aspiring writers. Visiting while on holiday, young editor Delphine Despero is thrilled to discover a novel so powerful that she feels compelled to bring it back to Paris to publish it. The book is a sensation, prompting fevered interest in the ident In the small town of Crozon in Brittany, a library houses manuscripts that were rejected for publication: the faded dreams of aspiring writers. Visiting while on holiday, young editor Delphine Despero is thrilled to discover a novel so powerful that she feels compelled to bring it back to Paris to publish it. The book is a sensation, prompting fevered interest in the identity of its author - apparently one Henri Pick, a now-deceased pizza chef from Crozon. Sceptics cry that the whole thing is a hoax: how could this man have written such a masterpiece? An obstinate journalist, Jean-Michel Rouche, heads to Brittany to investigate. By turns farcical and moving, The Mystery of Henri Pick is a fast-paced comic mystery enriched by a deep love of books - and of the authors who write them.


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In the small town of Crozon in Brittany, a library houses manuscripts that were rejected for publication: the faded dreams of aspiring writers. Visiting while on holiday, young editor Delphine Despero is thrilled to discover a novel so powerful that she feels compelled to bring it back to Paris to publish it. The book is a sensation, prompting fevered interest in the ident In the small town of Crozon in Brittany, a library houses manuscripts that were rejected for publication: the faded dreams of aspiring writers. Visiting while on holiday, young editor Delphine Despero is thrilled to discover a novel so powerful that she feels compelled to bring it back to Paris to publish it. The book is a sensation, prompting fevered interest in the identity of its author - apparently one Henri Pick, a now-deceased pizza chef from Crozon. Sceptics cry that the whole thing is a hoax: how could this man have written such a masterpiece? An obstinate journalist, Jean-Michel Rouche, heads to Brittany to investigate. By turns farcical and moving, The Mystery of Henri Pick is a fast-paced comic mystery enriched by a deep love of books - and of the authors who write them.

30 review for The Mystery of Henri Pick

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joel Rochester

    a good book if you're wanting to study intentional fallacy because all these characters are just obsessed with the author more than they are the actual book but at the same time, this also has a tinge of the male gaze and random comments that make you go ????? what, one example is where a character literally threatens to get an abortion if her partner publishes his book because it'll ruin her reputation??? plus, there are moments where the writing plays towards the male gaze and the male fantasy a good book if you're wanting to study intentional fallacy because all these characters are just obsessed with the author more than they are the actual book but at the same time, this also has a tinge of the male gaze and random comments that make you go ????? what, one example is where a character literally threatens to get an abortion if her partner publishes his book because it'll ruin her reputation??? plus, there are moments where the writing plays towards the male gaze and the male fantasy and that made me uncomfortable.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    Inspired by a Richard Brautigan short story, the librarian of the small town of Crozon in Brittany creates a sanctuary for manuscripts that have been rejected for publication. Years later, a young Parisian editor visiting her parents discovers this secret library and stumbles across a brilliant manuscript: The Last Hours of a Love Affair by Henri Pick, a now-deceased local pizza chef. But could a humble pizza chef have secretly been a genius novelist? As the novel becomes a surprise bestseller i Inspired by a Richard Brautigan short story, the librarian of the small town of Crozon in Brittany creates a sanctuary for manuscripts that have been rejected for publication. Years later, a young Parisian editor visiting her parents discovers this secret library and stumbles across a brilliant manuscript: The Last Hours of a Love Affair by Henri Pick, a now-deceased local pizza chef. But could a humble pizza chef have secretly been a genius novelist? As the novel becomes a surprise bestseller in France, more people begin to look into the mystery of Henri Pick to find out. I read David Foenkinos’ novel Delicacy years ago and it’s a credit to his talent that he managed to enthral me - a guy who’s hardly read any romance novels and basically ignores that genre entirely - with his love story. So I was hoping for a similar experience with his latest, The Mystery of Henri Pick - and was unfortunately let down. The premise is intriguing if you’re the bookish sort - which I am - and parts of it were interesting. Like the editor, Delphine, discovering the manuscript, how she met her authorial boyfriend Frederic, the occasional revelations about the people associated with the novel, and the growing public reaction to its publication. But that’s just a small part of the novel - most of it is taken up with soap opera-esque digressions that are irrelevant to the overall story. Like Pick’s middle-aged daughter Josephine rekindling her romance with her ex Marc; Magali, the overweight, older librarian having an unlikely affair with a twentysomething Kurt Cobain-lookalike (that’s literally how he’s described!); and the journalist, Rouche, mooning over his dwindling literary fame. If that stuff was interesting, I would be more forgiving, but it isn’t. Foenkinos also goes for one twist too many at the end. All that last twist does is underline how pointless it was to focus so much on certain characters’ stories if none of it had any bearing on anything. Despite the occasional charming element, I was mostly bored with the rambling, often repetitive, and increasingly uninteresting narrative. The Mystery of Henri Pick was a disappointing read - I’d recommend checking out Delicacy instead for a better David Foenkinos novel.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    oh, I do hate star ratings. This one falls somewhere between a 3.5 and a 4 for me, so what the heck. Let's round up for the novel's fun quotient. full post here: https://www.readingavidly.com/2020/09... Normally the words "Walter Presents" means an hour or two or three or more spent watching foreign crime films/series on tv (now "Walter's Choice" in the US), so I had an international crime sort of framework in mind as a basis for buying this book. I admit to being a bit surprised as I started read oh, I do hate star ratings. This one falls somewhere between a 3.5 and a 4 for me, so what the heck. Let's round up for the novel's fun quotient. full post here: https://www.readingavidly.com/2020/09... Normally the words "Walter Presents" means an hour or two or three or more spent watching foreign crime films/series on tv (now "Walter's Choice" in the US), so I had an international crime sort of framework in mind as a basis for buying this book. I admit to being a bit surprised as I started reading it, since The Mystery of Henri Pick, as I quickly discovered, is much more on the lighter side than I'd expected. At first it was a bit discombobulating not having the full-fledged crime/mystery novel I thought I'd bought, so I had to regroup, let go of my original expectations and move on. Once I relaxed, the book became a fun read, albeit with a slightly serious edge. This book fortuitously arrived at a point when I needed something refreshing, something on the lighter side, and with this novel the author threw a few hours of happy reading my way. Author David Foenkinos noted that his book is "a playful reflection of the literary world," as well as a "tribute to books and literature and to the writers that have long been heroes of mine," and I have to admit that I couldn't help feeling rather guilty every time he mentioned a title that has been sitting on my shelves, sadly neglected and sadly unread. The story is definitely "playful," and while I loved the literary references as well as the great love for books and literature displayed throughout, for my taste it goes too much into the private lives/soul searching of all of the characters affected by the publication of Pick's book, making it drag a bit in the reading after a while and sometimes turning toward the "cutesy" side which is just not my cuppa. I also want to say that the dustjacket makes a lot of the "obstinate journalist," but in reality, he takes up far less space than I would have thought from the book's description. But then came the ending which I can only describe as completely unexpected and which I greeted with mental applause and a silent shout of bravo in my head. Now to watch the film. Overall, it's fun, it's lighthearted, and we can all use some of that happening in our lives at the moment.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This is a charming, literary mystery, which revolves around a library of rejected books. This is, of course, a delightful idea for all book lovers – a library of, ‘the world’s literary orphans.’ When one of these titles, written by a deceased cook, becomes a huge success, it leads to an investigation into how the mysterious author could have penned this brilliant novel. There are an enormous amount of characters, all wrapped up in a wonderful French setting, who are involved, in some way or anot This is a charming, literary mystery, which revolves around a library of rejected books. This is, of course, a delightful idea for all book lovers – a library of, ‘the world’s literary orphans.’ When one of these titles, written by a deceased cook, becomes a huge success, it leads to an investigation into how the mysterious author could have penned this brilliant novel. There are an enormous amount of characters, all wrapped up in a wonderful French setting, who are involved, in some way or another, with the novel. Also, there is much about publishing, and all that entails, which is both amusing and also interesting. I enjoyed the twists and turns of this mystery, but I also enjoyed the sense of place and character. A really enjoyable novel, full of French flavour. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    The municipal library in the town of Crozon, Brittany, is a little different - it contains a section devoted to books that have been rejected by publishers. When up-and-coming young editor Delphine Despero comes to a nearby village to visit her parents with a new boyfriend in tow, the pair decide to check out this library. They while away a long afternoon at the library, and by the time they leave, Delphine believes she may have discovered the-next-big-literary-thing. It's a novel titled The Las The municipal library in the town of Crozon, Brittany, is a little different - it contains a section devoted to books that have been rejected by publishers. When up-and-coming young editor Delphine Despero comes to a nearby village to visit her parents with a new boyfriend in tow, the pair decide to check out this library. They while away a long afternoon at the library, and by the time they leave, Delphine believes she may have discovered the-next-big-literary-thing. It's a novel titled The Last Hours of a Love Affair, ostensibly written by the local, late pizzeria-owner, Henri Pick. The book is a sensation across all of France! Only, Pick's widow doesn't believe he could have written it. His daughter is doubtful too, although she welcomes the opportunities that arise from the publicity. Freelance journalist Jean-Michel Rouche is also in the sceptics camp, and with nothing much better to do, he decides to get to the bottom of the mystery. This book was a major hit for Foenkinos upon its original publication in 2016. It was made into a movie in 2019 before being published in English for the first time in 2020. I didn't know about the movie, but I could have made a good guess, because it actually reads as if it was written for its screen potential. Perhaps Foenkinos was also making some kind of statement against the publishing industry? I don't know enough about him to be sure, but it's certainly possible. Apart from a couple of grubby male fantasy moments that made me cringe, it was a charming, quick read. With thanks to NetGalley and Steerforth Press / Hanover Publisher Services for a digital copy to read and review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    4.5★s “Publishing a novel that nobody reads is like encountering the world’s indifference in person.” The Mystery of Henri Pick is a novel by French author, David Foenkinos. It is translated from French by Sean Taylor. When junior editor at Éditions Grasset, Delphine Despero takes her boyfriend, struggling author Frederic Koskas, home to Breton for a vacation, she’s not expecting to discover a best-seller. But, in the nearby town of Crozon, the municipal library boasts an unusual section: several 4.5★s “Publishing a novel that nobody reads is like encountering the world’s indifference in person.” The Mystery of Henri Pick is a novel by French author, David Foenkinos. It is translated from French by Sean Taylor. When junior editor at Éditions Grasset, Delphine Despero takes her boyfriend, struggling author Frederic Koskas, home to Breton for a vacation, she’s not expecting to discover a best-seller. But, in the nearby town of Crozon, the municipal library boasts an unusual section: several shelves dedicated to unpublished manuscripts. This was implemented by a former librarian, Jean-Pierre Gourvec, who got the idea from a Richard Brautigan novel. The manuscripts might be many-times rejected, or never submitted, but the one condition is that the author delivers his work in person. Delphine and Frederic idly peruse the shelves and happen upon The Last Hours of a Love Affair, by Henri Pick. They are stunned: it’s unbelievably good! Everyone who reads it is captivated. But who is Henri Pick? Now deceased, it turns out he was, for forty years, the local pizzeria owner, and no one, not even his wife and daughter, had any inkling of his literary leanings. Delphine has no trouble convincing her bosses at Grasset to publish, but what really makes it a best-seller is this fascinating back-story. No-one, however, can predict what far-reaching effects this discovery will have. Madeleine Pick is stunned to find herself interviewed on TV; Henri’s daughter, Josephine, is also in demand, and courted by a long-gone husband; the now-librarian, Magali finds the extra workload from all the literary tourists irritating; Frederic is jealous at the attention Delphine is bestowing on this dead author; but a certain once-renowned literary critic is so sceptical, he decides to investigate. Does he learn the truth? Does the librarian run away with her young lover? Does the daughter reunite with her husband? Did the pizzeria owner really write the novel? If not, then who did? While some of the literary references will be lost on the everyday reader, this is still a marvellous literary mystery, clever and funny, with (of course!) a very French flavour. There are some delightful last-minute plot twists in this intriguing little tale. Very entertaining. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Pushkin Press

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I read French author David Foenkinos' engaging novella, Charlotte, several years ago, and whilst I intended to pick up more of his work in the interim, I somehow never got around to doing so.  The Mystery of Henri Pick, freshly translated into English, sounded like an interesting literary romp, and the fact that it is part of a new 'Walter Presents' series at Pushkin Press intrigued me further. In the small town of Crozon in Brittany, a library becomes home to a myriad of manuscripts, all of whic I read French author David Foenkinos' engaging novella, Charlotte, several years ago, and whilst I intended to pick up more of his work in the interim, I somehow never got around to doing so.  The Mystery of Henri Pick, freshly translated into English, sounded like an interesting literary romp, and the fact that it is part of a new 'Walter Presents' series at Pushkin Press intrigued me further. In the small town of Crozon in Brittany, a library becomes home to a myriad of manuscripts, all of which were rejected for publication.  It is based on an idea of Richard Brautigan's, and is a 'French version of the library of rejects' which appears in one of his novels.  This library came to fruition in Foenkinos' novel through the character of Gourvec, whom we meet at the beginning of the story.  It is difficult not to warm to him immediately: 'According to him, it was not a question of liking or not liking to read, but of finding the book which was meant for you...  For this purpose, he had developed a method that might appear almost paranormal: he would examine each reader's physical appearance in order to work out which author they needed.' When Gourvec began to collect rejected manuscripts, he found his idea a popular one: 'Many people made the journey.  Writers came from all over France to rid themselves of the fruits of their failure.  It was a sort of literary pilgrimage.'  His single stipulation was that the manuscripts had to be delivered in person, and only then would they be added to the growing collection on the shelves at the back of the library. Protagonist Delphine Despero, who works at a publishing house in Paris, chooses to spend her holiday in the small Breton town.  She is thrilled to discover a story which she loves in said library, and decides to ready it for publication.  The Last Hours of a Love Affair has purportedly been written by a now-deceased pizza chef from Crozon, named Henri Pick.  The book, of course, becomes a sensation.  The delighted audience, however, soon wonders how such a man could have written such a magnificent book, and suspect a hoax.  In steps journalist Jean-Michel Rouche, who is determined to investigate the mystery. Some of the other manuscripts housed in the library sound fascinating, and were they real, they would be added straight onto my to-read list.  These include a 'cookery book compiling every meal eaten in Dostoevsky's novels'.  An erotic guide to raw fish, entitled Masturbation and Sushi, not so much. There is a lot of depth here, particularly with regard to the relationships between characters, and to the keeping of secrets.  Foenkinos gives rather thorough backstories to each of these characters, and these are just as detailed as those in the present day.  Even in translation, The Mystery of Henri Pick feels stylistically very French, and has the same delightful feel to it as novels by Muriel Barbery, and A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé.  It is not as quirky as some French novels which I have read of late, but it is thoroughly engrossing from beginning to end, and every element within it has been so well handled.  The translation feels seamless. The Mystery of Henri Pick, which was first published in its original French in 2016, and in English in 2020, is a novel well worth picking up.  It has humour and tenderness in abundance, and muses constantly about the power which books have in our lives.  Foenkinos makes use of short chapters and sections to follow different characters, all of whom eventually intersect.  The author is sensitive and understanding of his cast, all of whom are going through different things, some of which are tumultuous.  The Mystery of Henri Pick is easy to read, and highly memorable; I, for one, am still thinking about it weeks after finishing the book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tripfiction

    Charming novel set in BRITTANY (The Last Hours of a Love Affair) Who doesn't love a feel-good novel that revolves around books? In Brittany there is a library that stocks the books that nobody wants. It is of course an American idea. A chap called Jean-Pierre Couvrec set up a library (as a tribute to Richard Brautigan - look him up) where authors can deposit their books that have been rejected by publishers. The scene is set. Delphine Despero is an editor at a publishing house and together with her Charming novel set in BRITTANY (The Last Hours of a Love Affair) Who doesn't love a feel-good novel that revolves around books? In Brittany there is a library that stocks the books that nobody wants. It is of course an American idea. A chap called Jean-Pierre Couvrec set up a library (as a tribute to Richard Brautigan - look him up) where authors can deposit their books that have been rejected by publishers. The scene is set. Delphine Despero is an editor at a publishing house and together with her beau, Frédéric, she visits the library and she happens to discover a fabulous manuscript that she just knows will be a success story if she were to publish it. It is up there with the works of J D Salinger et al. After a little research they determine that a local man wrote it, the eponymous but deceased Henri Pick of the title. It is time to share their findings with his wife Madeleine, who is utterly incredulous. Henri owned a pizza restaurant, he never even penned a birthday card to her, let alone would he be capable of crafting a masterpiece. When would he have written it? Whilst waiting for the pizza dough to rise? He was not an écrivain, absolutely not! Once the story gets out, it causes a buzz of consternation and almost hysteria in the community, the impact has a marked ripple effect both positive and negative. The serendipitous discovery and attribution, of course, make a fabulous storyline to promote the novel - The Last Hours of a Love Affair - and Frédéric, having had little success with his own book "The Bathtub", is going to write about how the novel came to fruition. Soon an investigative journalist is onto the story of this phenomenal book sensation, avidly pursuing his lines of enquiry. Did Henri Pick really write this book? Oui? Ou non? This is a charming novel of writerly pursuits, books, writing and it is an affirmation that some of the best books initially get rejected (just think of Harry Potter, rejected 12 times before someone saw the quality!).  It is written with wit and sagacity, it is beautifully quirky and makes for an entertaining dance through the world of books and people. Just lovely.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eleri

    This is very much my kind of book. It's a sweet little mystery full of surprising turns that leave you hanging right till the very end. It's very cleverly written, in a deceptively simple style and matter-of-fact tone. All the way through we have this nagging feeling that something doesn't add up but find it difficult to distrust such an open and honest narrative voice (I had initially guessed at the ending, but over the course of the book was convinced I had been wrong). I love that it's a true This is very much my kind of book. It's a sweet little mystery full of surprising turns that leave you hanging right till the very end. It's very cleverly written, in a deceptively simple style and matter-of-fact tone. All the way through we have this nagging feeling that something doesn't add up but find it difficult to distrust such an open and honest narrative voice (I had initially guessed at the ending, but over the course of the book was convinced I had been wrong). I love that it's a true mystery - unlike most detective stories etc., it doesn't need any element of danger or time pressure to keep you hooked. Along the way, as the story unravels, we encounter more and more people connected to the mystery in different ways. Between them they show us a wide range of different ways that people can be unhappy, but over the course of the book they are forced to re-evaluate their lives and find their own happiness. Put like that it sounds cheesy and annoying to read but it really wasn't, because everything was handled with such a light and unsentimental touch. I also love the way this book questions how well people can ever really know eachother.

  10. 5 out of 5

    ℳacarena

    4.5⭐ out of 5⭐ I'm totally surprised, but in a good way. The title and the epilogue called my attention, although I couldn't have imagined it was going to be this way. It's quite original and even funny. I like the way the author writes. The narrator tells us the story in a very particular way; witty and original. Therefore, it makes you keep on reading. You need to know what's going to happen next. You totally need to know how this mystery ends. There're several characters and, in my humble opin 4.5⭐ out of 5⭐ I'm totally surprised, but in a good way. The title and the epilogue called my attention, although I couldn't have imagined it was going to be this way. It's quite original and even funny. I like the way the author writes. The narrator tells us the story in a very particular way; witty and original. Therefore, it makes you keep on reading. You need to know what's going to happen next. You totally need to know how this mystery ends. There're several characters and, in my humble opinion, I think they're all interesting. Each one of them is important, they're like the threads that compose this intrincated pattern. The story itself is interesting, original, fun, and it has even some sad elements which are narrated with mixed emotions; sometimes, the narrator tells us these facts in a way we can totally empathize with the characters, therefore we can feel this sadness, but then it takes a different turn, and we can see bits of irony. I find it difficult to summarise the story without giving spoilers, so I won't tell you anything new by saying that the story revolves around the mysterious manuscript called The Last Hours of a Love Affair, by Henry Pick, who died two years ago and owned a Pizzeria in a little French town. This manuscript was found in the peculiar library of rejected books by Delphine -a young editor- and Frédéric -an author whose first book was rejected several times until read by Delphine, therefore it ended up being published but with no success. Who was Henri Pick? How could a man who seemed to have no interest in books write such a novel? Everything around the book's author seems contradictory. That's why the journalist Jeane-Michel Rouche is so intrigued. He thinks there's something strange about this whole media story. He won't be at peace until he demonstrates that Henri Pick couldn't have written that novel. Thanks to Pushkin Press and NetGalley for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for my honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    This first publication in a collaborative series between Pushkin Press and Walter Iuzzolino, aka Walter Presents, holds early promise. I have been a fan of the Walter Presents selections (via amazon Prime), in which he curates international tv series for American viewing, and applaud his branching out into books. This is not the deepest or most intellectually challenging of stories, but one which is very entertaining and which pays homage to unpublished works which may or may not have merit. Man This first publication in a collaborative series between Pushkin Press and Walter Iuzzolino, aka Walter Presents, holds early promise. I have been a fan of the Walter Presents selections (via amazon Prime), in which he curates international tv series for American viewing, and applaud his branching out into books. This is not the deepest or most intellectually challenging of stories, but one which is very entertaining and which pays homage to unpublished works which may or may not have merit. Many references to Richard Brautigan, but closer in spirit to possibly John Kennedy O'Toole and the tragedy of his story. Hung on the barest of plots, it does have some good characterizations, but a bit more soap than I like.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This is a really sweet book that was great for these long, hot days. It features a museum of literary masterpieces that have been rejected by publishing houses. These orphans need a home and find it in a small, cozy town in France. Then an editorial employee visits her parents and finds a neglected manuscript by a deceased man who owned a pizza store. The publishing world is in a frenzy about this unexpected find and speculation abounds if the pizza owner really wrote the book. The book talks a This is a really sweet book that was great for these long, hot days. It features a museum of literary masterpieces that have been rejected by publishing houses. These orphans need a home and find it in a small, cozy town in France. Then an editorial employee visits her parents and finds a neglected manuscript by a deceased man who owned a pizza store. The publishing world is in a frenzy about this unexpected find and speculation abounds if the pizza owner really wrote the book. The book talks about the impact on the town's residents and the family of the purported author. It's really not much of a mystery but it is fun and sweet and a great way to pass the time. Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Durrant

    A page turner—a feature much to be desired for working on French! A manuscript of a novel is found in a obscure Breton village library. The author is a local pizza café owner and cook named Henri Pick, now deceased. No evidence exists that Pick ever wrote anything beyond a semi-literate letter to his daughter. The manuscript is published by a prominent Parisian publishing house and immediately becomes a best-seller, the story of its mysterious origin as much as the quality of the work itself dri A page turner—a feature much to be desired for working on French! A manuscript of a novel is found in a obscure Breton village library. The author is a local pizza café owner and cook named Henri Pick, now deceased. No evidence exists that Pick ever wrote anything beyond a semi-literate letter to his daughter. The manuscript is published by a prominent Parisian publishing house and immediately becomes a best-seller, the story of its mysterious origin as much as the quality of the work itself driving sales. A literary critic named Rouche, now fallen upon hard times, cannot accept the story of the book's "discovery" and undertakes a search to resolve the mystery. While this is the central plot, Foenkinos cleverly weaves a fabric of engaging characters and enticing subplots, sometimes leading the reader down false trails. I found "Le mystère Henri Pick" a delight to read and a clever put down of the way the story behind a literary work can draw more attention than the work itself.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Veronika

    Such a lovely, refreshing book. Love letter to all unpublished books and forgotten authors. I loved Davin Foenkinos's writing style, the book never got boring. The characters felt very real, even if there were just a little glimpses into their lives. And David totally got me with that ending, I didn't expect the plot twist at all. Now I am going to borrow some of his other books from the library :) Such a lovely, refreshing book. Love letter to all unpublished books and forgotten authors. I loved Davin Foenkinos's writing style, the book never got boring. The characters felt very real, even if there were just a little glimpses into their lives. And David totally got me with that ending, I didn't expect the plot twist at all. Now I am going to borrow some of his other books from the library :)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    Short review: What a refreshing, fun, mystery. All about books, the world of books. Very French and very fresh. Loved it! Booktrail the locations in the novel here This book made me smile in so many ways. It’s a twisty-turny mystery set in a lovely French village in a place called the ‘Library of Rejected Books’. At first sight it reminded me of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, but this is more of a home for rejected manuscripts and writers. Apparently there’s a real one in North America too, and Short review: What a refreshing, fun, mystery. All about books, the world of books. Very French and very fresh. Loved it! Booktrail the locations in the novel here This book made me smile in so many ways. It’s a twisty-turny mystery set in a lovely French village in a place called the ‘Library of Rejected Books’. At first sight it reminded me of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, but this is more of a home for rejected manuscripts and writers. Apparently there’s a real one in North America too, and the idea is lifted from the words of Richard Brautigan) A now deceased pizzeria owner from a remote French village has apparently written something placed in this library which has now become a best-selling book. A publicist and her boyfriend who is a writer himself albeit unsuccessful, takes on this mystery and they vow to get to the bottom of it. They visit the village in question, the place where all manuscripts are kept and even interview the man’s wife and friends. There’s a literary critic who comes into the midst and everyone wants to know who wrote this book and how it has become so successful. The book is about the Russian poet Pushkin and the end of a romance through one heart-wrenching emotion to another. There’s something in it that speaks to everyone who reads it. I felt like a literary Sherlock Holmes reading this. As the investigation unfolds, you are right there with the characters and have the same thoughts and ideas as they do. As more and more people come into the picture and mystery, the threads of the puzzle weave and move around. It’s a true mystery and an intriguing one at that. Makes a difference reading about a mystery writer than a murder or similar. I want to move to Crozon immediately. Not only does it sound like a cute little town – it has a library which it values to the point of them funding the investigation. The people who are concerned about this mystery on their doorstep is never ending and it’s a delight to see. The world of books is evoked in style – book sellers, editors, writers, the way books are marketed and sold, how PR works, word of mouth etc is fascinating. How does an unpublished manuscript ever see the light of day? And does it matter who wrote it – even a pizza worker from a small village? The book about love, finding it, losing it. its about relationships and how people change. And that’s just the start. Lots of insights in this book and it would make a great book club read. The ending – well that was just poetry in itself. A mystery that delivers and it’s a literary delight! To be enjoyed with a cup of caramel tea.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Middleton

    Utterly charming, this is a novel about novels; specifically, a cantankerous, puzzle of a novel whose origins don't seem to match the facts: could pizzeria owner, Henri Pick, a man who never read a book in his life, have penned a modern masterpiece and left it in the stacks of a library for rejected manuscripts? It starts off strongly, Foenkinos using footnotes to enhance the personalities of the many different characters that feature in this meandering tale, usually at their expense and with hil Utterly charming, this is a novel about novels; specifically, a cantankerous, puzzle of a novel whose origins don't seem to match the facts: could pizzeria owner, Henri Pick, a man who never read a book in his life, have penned a modern masterpiece and left it in the stacks of a library for rejected manuscripts? It starts off strongly, Foenkinos using footnotes to enhance the personalities of the many different characters that feature in this meandering tale, usually at their expense and with hilarious results. The style is Thackeray-esque in this way, which I loved. As the story develops, however, the effect of this wears off and his witty observations become less assured, the device of using footnotes laboured, and I found myself increasingly bored with 'the mystery' that the title promises. There were some beautiful passages in the book, however, which meant I didn't mind so much. The hook of this novel might by 'the mystery', but what makes you stay is the writing: "A first novel is always a bit of a teacher's pet. Only geniuses can instantly produce dunces. But it undoubtedly takes time to understand how to let a story breathe, how to create something behind the shows of brilliance." "Readers always find themselves in a book, in one way or another. Reading is a completely egotistical pleasure. Unconsciously we expect books to speak to us." "Our era is generally on the hunt for the truth behind everything, particularly fiction." This is a book for book-lovers and writers (especially writers, I think) and is, ultimately, one of the most rewarding types of stories: it makes you see the world a little differently, if only in the pages of the book itself.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tom Mooney

    This was a hell of a lot of fun. The whole book is one big joke, filled with dozens of smaller jokes. A book editor finds a brilliant manuscript in a Brittany library dedicated to rejected books (an idea sparked by Richard Brautigan's glorious novel, The Abortion). The book is published to great acclaim and the apparent author was a now-dead pizzaria owner. But not everyone believes the story behind the story... An absurd farce which lives up to the standards of the wonderful book from which it This was a hell of a lot of fun. The whole book is one big joke, filled with dozens of smaller jokes. A book editor finds a brilliant manuscript in a Brittany library dedicated to rejected books (an idea sparked by Richard Brautigan's glorious novel, The Abortion). The book is published to great acclaim and the apparent author was a now-dead pizzaria owner. But not everyone believes the story behind the story... An absurd farce which lives up to the standards of the wonderful book from which it takes its origins. Enjoyable, satisfying and very funny. It reminded me of Antoine Laurain's work, as well as Andrew Sean Greer's Less, but is much better than either.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Have you ever read a book and been firmly in the middle between loving it and hating it? I think that is my opinion for this one. I love books about books and the nexus for this story is a library for rejected manuscripts in the small town of Crozon in Brittany *swoon*. A young editor browsing the stacks finds a gem in what could likely be the world's largest slush pile, returns with the manuscript to Paris, and I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Have you ever read a book and been firmly in the middle between loving it and hating it? I think that is my opinion for this one. I love books about books and the nexus for this story is a library for rejected manuscripts in the small town of Crozon in Brittany *swoon*. A young editor browsing the stacks finds a gem in what could likely be the world's largest slush pile, returns with the manuscript to Paris, and publishes it to great acclaim. The novel, The Last Hours of a Love Affair, becomes more and more successful and the mystery surrounding the author (deceased pizza chef Henri Pick) increases. Swarms of journalists, skeptics, and hopeful authors descend on the tiny town of Crozon. As the story unfolds, readers learn about connections between the town's citizens and while some of these connections were interesting, I thought there were too many characters included and too much digression into their storylines. I definitely disliked a few of the characters and totally hated one of them. The parts I loved were the comments and analyses about publishing. Books aren't born in a vacuum. There are stories behind their creation and their creators. There are publicists and players who bring about buzz. There are systems in place to control what is actually produced for mass consumption. When the mystery unravels around the novel I was torn between loving and hating the outcome. While I wouldn't recommend this one widely, I would recommend it to readers interested in the process of book publication--or to those poor souls who actually believe all books achieve their success based on their own merit. Come chat with me about books here, too: Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rhian Pritchard

    A vaguely interesting whodunnit, sort of fun, but the author couldn't put his dick away for ten seconds and most of it was unnecessary sex scenes. A vaguely interesting whodunnit, sort of fun, but the author couldn't put his dick away for ten seconds and most of it was unnecessary sex scenes.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I may or may not ever reread this book, but it was such a pleasure, I loved every minute! The twists and turns are delightful, as the reader follows the series of events when a book editor discovers an unwanted manuscript in her native village in isolated Bretagne, France. The lives of book sellers, editors, writers, and family members weave together through a series of self-discoveries, learning about love as the world follows form instead of substance. The marketing of the published manuscript I may or may not ever reread this book, but it was such a pleasure, I loved every minute! The twists and turns are delightful, as the reader follows the series of events when a book editor discovers an unwanted manuscript in her native village in isolated Bretagne, France. The lives of book sellers, editors, writers, and family members weave together through a series of self-discoveries, learning about love as the world follows form instead of substance. The marketing of the published manuscript, as a reflection of marketing in modern society, goes off the deep-end and funnels wealth into several pockets, while leading to other unimagined consequences of the heart. Funny, fast-paced, optimistic even as it makes a sobering statement about popular culture, I loved every bit of this book!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Soce Berberian

    Just had a great time reading the book. Written very beautifully! I read it by the beach ...just let the story carry you wherever it takes you! Have fun!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    This was a very unusual but also delightful read. Delphine, is an editor from Paris, who goes to visit her parents in Brittany with her writer husband, where they visit the library of rejected books. They find a book that they both agree is an absolutely amazing read. The author, Henri Pick, however has died a couple years back and thus cannot “confirm” that he is the author. This becomes as a total shock to Pick’s family and the book is published under the pretence that a “secret” book is found This was a very unusual but also delightful read. Delphine, is an editor from Paris, who goes to visit her parents in Brittany with her writer husband, where they visit the library of rejected books. They find a book that they both agree is an absolutely amazing read. The author, Henri Pick, however has died a couple years back and thus cannot “confirm” that he is the author. This becomes as a total shock to Pick’s family and the book is published under the pretence that a “secret” book is found. A great setup and honestly I think it carried through the book. Only thing that got a bit confusing was all the characters and their backstories, it was not fully clear why some of them were introduced. Sometimes just raised slight confusion. Still the twists and turns were well executed and I absolutely loved the commentary-style footnotes. For the lovers of books about books and libraries and quirky characters. Enjoyable! Thank you Pushkin Press and Netgalley for this copy. Instagram

  23. 4 out of 5

    SueLucie

    This is a great story, whimsical in that very Gallic way I love so much. It would be a shame for others if I were to give away any of the plot beyond the publisher’s blurb. A medley of unusual and endearing characters, with a soupçon of mystery and a big splash of romance, it was just what I needed in these locked-down days to transport me to the bistros of Paris and the Brittany coast. Plenty of references to real people and events in the arts and publishing worlds had me reaching for the inter This is a great story, whimsical in that very Gallic way I love so much. It would be a shame for others if I were to give away any of the plot beyond the publisher’s blurb. A medley of unusual and endearing characters, with a soupçon of mystery and a big splash of romance, it was just what I needed in these locked-down days to transport me to the bistros of Paris and the Brittany coast. Plenty of references to real people and events in the arts and publishing worlds had me reaching for the internet, too, all very interesting. Highly recommended. With thanks to Pushkin (how appropriate) Press via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Claire O'Sullivan

    .. and this is why I love being in a BookGroup . I would never have picked this up or even have looked at the back to see what it was about .. and yet.. I have just spent a few hours truly relaxing with this beautiful, gentle, joyous book 😊

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    A winding tale following an intriguing cast of characters from Paris to Brittany, the book questions what it takes to be happy and if you can ever truly know someone (amongst other things!). Most of the literary references went over my head and I was disappointed by the ending, but overall this was a well-paced read held together by the eponymous mystery- you'll be kept guessing til the end! "You can rationalize anything, but it is always your body that decides how long it takes an emotional wou A winding tale following an intriguing cast of characters from Paris to Brittany, the book questions what it takes to be happy and if you can ever truly know someone (amongst other things!). Most of the literary references went over my head and I was disappointed by the ending, but overall this was a well-paced read held together by the eponymous mystery- you'll be kept guessing til the end! "You can rationalize anything, but it is always your body that decides how long it takes an emotional wound to heal."

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christina (Christinasdialectic)

    In the small town of Crozon, Brittany the discovery of a rejected manuscript by a Parisian editor prompts curiosity about the author. Could a simple pizzeria owner write something so enchanting?⁠ ⁠ I was drawn to this based on the synopsis alone. This novel was originally published in French then translated to English. While the story flowed well, I think a few things ended up being lost in translation. I found a few sentences awkward but that could also be a result of not understanding French cul In the small town of Crozon, Brittany the discovery of a rejected manuscript by a Parisian editor prompts curiosity about the author. Could a simple pizzeria owner write something so enchanting?⁠ ⁠ I was drawn to this based on the synopsis alone. This novel was originally published in French then translated to English. While the story flowed well, I think a few things ended up being lost in translation. I found a few sentences awkward but that could also be a result of not understanding French culture. ⁠ ⁠ This is one of the few books I wasn't able to rate as soon as I finished it simply because I didn't like the ending. I had to sit with it for a while to decide how I felt about it. I try to stay away from reviewing books, and lean more towards recommending books I find interesting and which provoke thought and discussion. ⁠ That said, here are some of my takeaways: ⁠ ⁠ Hype over substance. This is a book about book. Mostly the publishing and promotion side. How often do we get so caught up with the fanfare surrounding the book such that the actual content and substance of the book takes a back seat?⁠ ⁠⁠ This book asked us to think about the consequences of our actions. Before you make a decision, do you consider how far reaching the repercussions of that decision/action might be? Or do you solely focus on what parts of your own life will be altered? ⁠ ⁠⁠ Although I didn't love the ending, I appreciated how much it made me think and that alone makes it worth reading. ⁠ ⁠

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katy Kelly

    Literary subterfuge and mystery, slow going. I found I was putting this down and picking it up again a lot, despite its slight length. Though the plot should have held my interest - a library of rejected books, one becoming a publishing sensation, a pizza maker writer, individuals delving to find the truth - it just didn’t grab me and make me race through. As I’ve said, a French library contains a section of books rejected by publishers but kept safe by a librarian for many years. Later, his assis Literary subterfuge and mystery, slow going. I found I was putting this down and picking it up again a lot, despite its slight length. Though the plot should have held my interest - a library of rejected books, one becoming a publishing sensation, a pizza maker writer, individuals delving to find the truth - it just didn’t grab me and make me race through. As I’ve said, a French library contains a section of books rejected by publishers but kept safe by a librarian for many years. Later, his assistant, now in charge becomes more the focus as one title is’discovered’ and the revelation that the writer was a simple pizza maker, who never appeared to read or write anything, is rooted in people’s hearts. The story then takes various roots, from the young female publisher championing the book and its author’s romantic story, the librarian and her small-town life, the author’s grown-up daughter and the way her world changes after her father’s book is published, and the man chasing down the ‘true’ story of Henri Pick. It does all come together, and the elements are all quite well written and interesting, but as a whole, for me, it just didn’t ‘grip’ in the way I thought it should. It would make a lovely gently film, with a lot of emotion and hidden stories, loves and dreams and regrets. One for lovers of books, of stories, of literary puzzles. With thanks to Netgalley for providing a sample reading copy.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bookshire Cat

    DNF, around page 50. I don’t know if it was because of the Czech translation (the original is in French) but the style of this thing was so bad it hurt my eyes. Flat, bumpy, clumsy, sketchy (I’ve read a ton of fanfiction with better style and depth). The characters didn’t interest me in the slightest and I felt a weird sense of detachment. The book had an amazing blurb but does not work for me. It does not have the atmosphere I expected. If you want a library story, I definitely recommend John Co DNF, around page 50. I don’t know if it was because of the Czech translation (the original is in French) but the style of this thing was so bad it hurt my eyes. Flat, bumpy, clumsy, sketchy (I’ve read a ton of fanfiction with better style and depth). The characters didn’t interest me in the slightest and I felt a weird sense of detachment. The book had an amazing blurb but does not work for me. It does not have the atmosphere I expected. If you want a library story, I definitely recommend John Connolly and his short story collection Night Music where he takes you for an amazing mysterious ride in just a few pages.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kerry-louise Jones

    This is the story of how a manuscript for a book gets discovered by a young publisher in a library of full of rejected books and the entertaining journey to find out more about the mysterious author.⁣ ⁣ This was a lovely little quirky mystery that was easy to read and hard to put down! I loved all the talk of books and the publishing industry and how it was all in the stunning French setting. ⁣ ⁣ I think this is perfect for fans of Reader on the 6.27 and Mr.Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore!!⁣ ⁣ Thank you This is the story of how a manuscript for a book gets discovered by a young publisher in a library of full of rejected books and the entertaining journey to find out more about the mysterious author.⁣ ⁣ This was a lovely little quirky mystery that was easy to read and hard to put down! I loved all the talk of books and the publishing industry and how it was all in the stunning French setting. ⁣ ⁣ I think this is perfect for fans of Reader on the 6.27 and Mr.Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore!!⁣ ⁣ Thank you to @pushkin_press and @walter_presents for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.⁣

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marina Sofia

    Perfect escapist reading for the current crazy world. Erudite, charming, delightful.

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