Hello, dahlings! See, I can update every week! Yay me! Take that, resolutions! I am so keeping you this year! SUCK IT, 2013!
Put on your serious pants, my internet friends, because I have to confide in you. I, Robyn Stone-Heart, a.k.a. She Who Loves Only Fictional Men, am nursing a bit of a bruised heart. Why? I suppose because boys are stupid, even when they “grow up” (i.e., sprout face fur, a phrase which makes me think of space fur, which is making me smile way too much as I picture cute little space cats) and become the man-boys that seem to exist only to inspire those post-break-up montages. You know, the ones in romantic comedies where the heroine wears pajamas and never leaves her house and eats ice cream from the carton while watching schmaltzy black and white movies (or Dirty Dancing, because duh) and and indulges in fits of 1) righteously self-pitying weeping, 2) wild, aggressive solo dance marathons, and 3) angry writing of bad hate-poetry.
The sad thing is, that’s just, like, Wednesday for me. I mean, I just did a pretty mean dance comprised mostly of angry disco finger pointing and slut-drops to Boney M’s “Rasptuin” while wearing a sports bra and SpongeBob boxers and crying a little at my reality. And I wasn’t even thinking of the dude, henceforth known as Snaggle-Frog, who kind of harshed my proverbial mellow. So. You know. I mean, that’s life?
Well, they don’t call me Stone-Heart for nothing (okay, so they don’t call me Stone-Heart at all… but they SHOULD). The good thing is, I didn’t even like Snaggle-Frog. (So put that in your pipe, Snaggle-Frog.) It’s just my pride that’s been wounded, I guess. I’m just mad at the world (more so than usual, ha ha). Guess I’ll just keep willing Uhtred of Bebbanburg into existence so he can marry me.
Sweet baby Thor, I’m glad I didn’t resolve not to off-site link or use parentheses, or else I’d really be failing. Ha.
This week, it’s a book that merits an Of Monsters and Men connection:
Oh yes, we’re about wallow, my friends. It’s all about “lurve,” as our old friend Georgia Nicolson would say. I’m talking the most gut-wrenching, tear-jerking, heart-smashing book I have read this year (ha, see what I did there?). It’s David Foenkinos’s Delicacy.
Yes, it was made into a movie, starring the delightful Audrey Tautou.
Natalie’s life is, quite simply, perfect. She has a satisfying job, good friends, and a husband she loves and is loved by. She has what so many desire: contentment. This fragile serenity is shattered when, after seven years of marriage, her husband, Francois, is involved in an fatal accident. After his untimely death, Natalie must come to terms to a world without him, and try to reforge her identity and her life. She finds security in isolation, certain that only when one loves can one lose. And then one small ‘accidental’ kiss changes everything, and Natalie finds herself falling for the unlikeliest of men: her awkward, odd, shy, Swedish co-worker Markus.
Not the greatest synopsis, I admit. It doesn’t sound like much, does it? That is part of the beauty of this novel. And believe me, pals, this book is BEAUTIFUL. There’s no other word for it. No, that’s a lie. There are so many other words for it: witty, elegant, funny, wistful, sad, and yes, my favourite, poignant. This book made me feel all the feelings. This book made me… uh oh… I feel a gif forcing its way in here…
This book cracked me open and made me FEEL. Oh, it was ugly, my friends. So very ugly. And I think the publisher should reimburse me for the 8,379 Kleenexes I used while reading this book.
The story itself is quite simple. Love, loss, love again. The characters are all exceptionally crafted, complex and unique and believable. They felt less like characters than like people in your own life – which is how great characters in great novels seem, I guess. The weird little details are hilarious, like Markus reading an article about mozzarella trafficking or how Francois decided to first speak to Natalie because she ordered apricot juice at the cafe, which indicated she was a “sweet, well-balanced woman […] only slightly original without being completely eccentric” (p. 4). Foenkinos is a masterful storyteller. The writing, as that little taste illustrates, will make you drool, and the pacing was incomparable, one of the best examples of measured story-telling I can think of. Nothing dragged, nothing lagged, nothing felt rushed or anything but eminently crafted. One of the stand-out aspects was how Foenkinos managed to maintain an effervescence, even when the story ventured into darker topics. The chapters that consisted entirely of lists or were only a sentence long were used very intelligently. Just when I thought my eyes would start getting wrinkly like toes too long in the bathtub, there would be a funny little chapter entitled “The Top Scorers of the World of Puzzles Championship in Minsk, October 27 to November 1, 2008” and I would stop crying (for a while).
And the ending was just… perfect. It didn’t disappoint by betraying the spirit of the book and ending unhappily – this is, above all, and despite the pervasive theme of loss, a book about happiness – nor was it maudlin or trite. It embraced that delicate sweetness that life can sometimes offer. It was hopeful. (This book is superlatively titled, by the way. Delicacy – just think of that word and what it means. It’s mind-embiggening.) Damn it, this book will go straight to that ever-clenching first of muscle trapped in your rib cage and make you believe in love again, even if Sean Bean hasn’t called you (yet). It will make you entreat and/or threaten whatever gods you root for to put a sweet, nerdy, giant Swedish dude in your path the next time you get to Paris. If you weren’t already hoping for that. Ahem. God, this book. THIS BOOK. I can’t even. You know? You know. Or if you don’t, read it, and then you will, and we can just wring our hands at each other while bemoaning our inability to articulate in human language how this book makes us FEEL. It will be all shrugs and awe-struck puffs of breath, which is only acceptable communication on the scandalous former planet, Pluto, where everyone is always in a state of speechless consternation.
Verdict: Really? Do I even need to say this? Freaking MAGNIFIQUE!
Best line(s): “On the other hand, she’d thanked him for the lovely evening. Yes, she had, she’d written the word “lovely.” Markus relished that word. That wasn’t nothing, “a lovely evening.” She could have written “a nice evening,” but no, she’d chosen the word “lovely.” “Lovely”–what a beautiful word. Clearly, what a lovely evening. It was enough to make you think you were in that heyday of long dresses and horse-drawn carriages…But what was I thinking about? he thought, suddenly going into a tailspin. I’ve got to act and stop letting my mind wander. Yes, “lovely” certainly was beautiful, but it wasn’t even a foot in the door; now he needed to shake a leg and go the extra mile. Oh, he felt desperate. He didn’t have the slightest idea.” (p. 126)
“”But you need to have lived years in nothingness to understand how a person can suddenly become frightened by a possibility.” (p. 140)
Rating: Five out five bloody, beating hearts. That’s as romantic as I’m gonna get.
Book Cat was too busy rereading Sharpe – BOOK CAT! What are you doing? I thought you said e-readers were for middle-brow yuppie Philistines?
Five minutes later.
Ta ta, darlins!