French Exit – Book Club

36300687 (1)
French Exit
by Patrick DeWitt
Release Date:  August 28, 2018
Publisher: Harper Collins
Number of Pages:  244
Source:  Warren Public Library
Contemporary Fiction
Rating:  R
Read Did Not Finish

Frances Price – tart widow, possessive mother, and Upper East Side force of nature – is in dire straits, beset by scandal and impending bankruptcy. Her adult son Malcolm is no help, mired in a permanent state of arrested development. And then there’s the Price’s aging cat, Small Frank, who Frances believes houses the spirit of her late husband, an infamously immoral litigator and world-class cad whose gruesome tabloid death rendered Frances and Malcolm social outcasts.

Putting penury and pariahdom behind them, the family decides to cut their losses and head for the exit. One ocean voyage later, the curious trio land in their beloved Paris, the City of Light serving as a backdrop not for love or romance, but self destruction and economical ruin – to riotous effect. A number of singular characters serve to round out the cast: a bashful private investigator, an aimless psychic proposing a seance, a doctor who makes house calls with his wine merchant in tow, and the inimitable Mme. Reynard, aggressive houseguest and dementedly friendly American expat.

This is not going to be much of a review as I did not (could not) finish this book.  Usually in my book club posts I give my review and then give you whatever feedback came out of the ladies at our book club meeting.  Today, due to everyone’s feelings on this story, I’m putting them all together.  So as not to be a terrible person, I don’t believe I will publish any actual review on this story over at Goodreads or Amazon though.

My mom was the host for this book club and had no idea what she wanted to read.  She went to the library and looked over their display of “new and popular” titles to see if anything piqued her interest.  She settled on this book as the author has a rather good reputation for some of his other books.  The librarian had not read French Exit but had stated his book The Sisters Brothers was a well-liked story for book clubs.

I got to chapter 7, which is less than 40 pages, and that was a struggle.  The main characters, Frances and Malcolm, were not likable characters in any way.  I’ve read plenty of books with characters that are terrible people, but there is usually one redeeming quality to keep you interested.  Or, there are other characters that the reader can sympathize with that will keep them turning pages.  Not so with this book.  And it wasn’t just me.  Half of us finished the book and half of us didn’t.  Those that did read the whole thing had a hard time getting through and stated that the characters never changed their self-centered ways.  Frankly, when I set the book down, I forgot about it completely.  When I would see it sitting on the table, I’d actually feel dread that I had to pick it back up and try to finish the story.

Not only was I having issues with the characters, but also the writing style.  It took me a chapter or two before I could even pinpoint which century or decade this was taking place.  We all believed this was the author’s intent.  Instead of finding it charming, we all found it to be a bit pretentious.  This book is classified as humor, but none of us found it to be very humorous.  From what the ladies who finished said, it’s got a slap-stick quality to it by the end, but the dry humor of the writing does not work well with conveying slapstick successfully.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read this book.  I believe we have enough of a difference in taste of books in our book club, but maybe we all think too much alike?  I’m curious if anyone out there really enjoyed this book.

It’s unfortunate that this book didn’t work out for any of us, but we still had an enjoyable afternoon and were able to catch up on life.  We haven’t all made it to book club at the same time in a very long while.

We’ll be meeting again April 7th.  We are reading Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road by Kate Harris.  If you’d like to read along, I’m always open to any thoughts or questions I can take to my book club about the books we’re reading.

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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