The List of My Desires by Grégoire Delacourt – Book Review

Title: The List of My Desires

Author: Grégoire Delacourt

Genre: Contemporary Drama, Translated Fiction

Blurb from Goodreads

Jocelyne is 47 and runs her own dressmaking shop. She’s a bit overweight, her husband is very ordinary and her best friends are the twins who run the hairdresser next door. Jocelyn has reached the point where she is examining her life and measuring it against what her teenage self had imagined. Jocelyn’s mother dropped dead suddenly when she was 17, and her father fell ill shortly afterwards, so she had to take the job in the shop rather than pursue her dreams. But then is she really unhappy? She has her weekends away, her friendships, her sewing blog, her work and its small pleasures. . .

Then the twins persuade Jocelyn to enter the euromillion lottery and she wins 18 million euros. She could do anything with the money, change her life completely, but what does she really want? She doesn’t tell anyone about the win. . . not just yet. . . Without cashing the cheque she begins to write down her ‘list of desires’ – a new coat, a bathmat, a visit to her daughter in England. She goes in to the Chanel shop in Paris, thinking she could buy anything she wants but will a new bag really make her any happier than the sandwich her husband prepared for her that morning? Meanwhile, her dressmaking blog is taking off, bringing her new friendships as well as business. And what if the money brings changes she can’t foresee?

My Review

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

I love this poem by Robert Frost. I like to think of my own life like that; I imagine I am living a life less ordinary so to speak. I kept thinking about this poem as I was reading this story. I suppose you could best describe The List of My Desires as a modern day fable. A story with a moral to teach us all about the true values of life, what loving someone really means and a story that talks about those diverging roads.

Two paths. Which would you choose?

“Being rich means seeing all that’s ugly and having the arrogance to think you can change things. All you have to do is pay for it.”

Jocelyne, the main character, is described as being an everywoman. Her wants are simple. She wants love and home…

So when the unexpected happens, does she choose to retain her simple life or let herself loose to the whirlwinds of fortune? Do we live our lives dictated by desire or by contentment?

There is much to ponder in the themes of this story but sadly for me, the writing lets it down.

It is a very easy read, I read it in just two short sittings over the course of an evening. Originally written in French, I read an English translation.

I loved the first chapter. It was my highlight.

The language was beautiful and the imagery it painted set my expectations for the remainder of the novel quite high.

However, as the book progressed I found myself becoming increasingly irritated by the writing style. It was too plain. Too easy. And at times dare I say rather uncouth. I do not know if this is a direct result of the translation. Perhaps in its original French this would have flowed much more beautifully. The beautiful prose from chapter one might have been carried throughout the novel.

Sadly this one just wasn’t to my liking. A disappointing read that failed to reach its full potential.

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