What an amazing read! I loved the relationships that were inside this novel. There were a wide variety of them, all of them significant and many of them changing during the course of the novel. The novel contained compassionate relationships, mangled ones, loving connections and relationships that were fun and amusing. I liked the honesty and openness that the characters shared in the novel. Germain was not afraid of saying what he felt and I loved how he opened himself up to Margueritte. As she shares her life, we see that she has a lot to offer him as her life has given her many more opportunities but in return, he can offer her something back when the time comes. There were times that my face was beaming as the two of the sat together talking. I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face as they conversed back and forth. Germain has had a hard life and what he finds in Margueritte brings him hope. As I read about his childhood, I understand exactly how Germain feels and I understand his frustration. As their friendship grows, I could see a change occurring in everything around them. I felt that the beginning was a bit off and that is why I am giving it 4.5 stars. I didn’t enjoy the beginning couple chapters, I felt they were scattered but the rest of the novel was amazing and I really enjoyed it.
Germain feels that he is “soft in the head.” His inability to read and his failure to have the proper language to speak appropriately in the world are a few of the inadequacies that he feels are missing for him to succeed. Germain blames his lack of an education for a lot of his deficiencies. Hanging out with his girlfriend and a few close friends, Germain lives day-by-day, each day blending into the next, their conversations repeating themselves, all the while the individuals are floating throughout their day.
Visiting the park, Germain spots Margueritte. They meet up multiple times there on the bench in the park; nothing was planned. Germain hoped that he would run into Margueritte as he looked forward to their talks. Margueritte has an air about her that allows Germain to open himself up to her and as they talk, their subjects are broad. I learned about both characters on this bench. Their stories so different but the compassion and affection that they felt for each other were identical. As their relationship grew, Germain pours his heart out to Margueritte and he waits for her to change her opinion of him. He sat and waited but Margueritte took an active approach. Yes, this woman had an adventurous life and they came from different worlds but she wants to help, to make a difference and with Germain, she did. This 86-year old woman is a lover of words, a lover of books and she opens the world of reading to Germain, a boy who thought of himself as “soft in the head.” She shows him that he has potential that he can learn and he grasps what she was offering while his past plays in the back of his mind. She didn’t talk over him but to him. His peers begin to notice the change in Germain as he begins to mention parts of the novels that Margueritte has exposed him to in the conversations that he has with them, leaving them baffled and amazed. Time passes and so does age and for Margueritte, her body is not as young as it used to be. I loved the ending, for its all about life and our part in it.
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Steerforth Press in exchange for an honest review.