Staff Review — The Red Notebook

RedNotebookThe Red Notebook

Antoine Laurain

Gallic Books Limited

Available now

What a charming novel The Red Notebook is! Antoine Laurain has written a story about two strangers who would be perfect for each other, if only they could somehow connect. But he is a divorced bookseller. She is a widowed gilder. A meeting seems unlikely.

He finds her abandoned handbag, which contains objects and mementoes that reveal her personality but not her identity. A red notebook is filled with her thoughts and musings, and he gradually falls in love with the person who has written them. He uses his superior literary powers (being a bookseller and all) to discover her identity, doggedly pursuing a series of clues that are scattered throughout the text like breadcrumbs.

However, The Red Notebook is more than just a lovely story reminiscent of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry and When Harry Met Sally. The Red Notebook is a love song dedicated to French literature, in particular to Patrick Modiano and his oeuvre. It is Modiano himself who provides the first clue to the handbag owner’s identity. There are references to at least 43 other authors, most of them French. Many names are recognizable to American readers.

Reading this novel made me want to read all of Modiano’s novels — sadly, out of 25 or so, only a few are available in English. The only way I see out of this deplorable situation is to improve six years of French well enough to read them!

~ Lysbeth Abrams

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One thought on “Staff Review — The Red Notebook

  1. What a lovely review, absolutely charmed by this book and the Patrick Modiano reference had me looking and wondering at his titles and wanting them too, especially Dora Bruder which I thought might have lended itself in part to inspiration for this novel. It’s so expensive in English, I’m seriously tempted to pop down to the library where I know for sure I’ll find a copy in French!

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