the red notebook book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

What are the threads that bind us together? How do two worlds collide? Is life purely coincidence or do our choices direct the unknown? In his novel, The Red Notebook, Antoine Laurain spins a tale of two people whose lives collide when one grabs what fate has dealt and pursues an unlikely course of action, despite the high risk of failure. In the heart of Paris lives Laurent, a divorced father who owns a book shop and spends more time reading novels and sorting books than engaging in meaningful relationships. Only a few blocks away lives Laure, a widow, whose career as a guilder results in a completely different circle of friends. Never before have they crossed paths, until one day everything changes.

While returning home from work late one evening, Laure is attacked outside her apartment building and her purse stolen. As a result of her injury, she ends up in a coma in the local hospital. Meanwhile, the next day, Laurent finds her purse on the curb a few blocks away. The contents seem to be intact minus the wallet and any obvious form of identification. Unable to simply ignore the purse, Laurent takes it home and begins to assemble the various contents, treating it as a complicated puzzle. Who is the owner? What is her story? Where does she live? His initial interest becomes an obsession as he tracks down any lead discovered in the purse. Laurent frequently questions why he feels compelled to give a purse back to a perfect stranger, and yet, that desire drives him on.

Unlike most novels, this book was more like a short story. It isn’t overly full of adventure or excessive detail, but I found the storyline charming in it’s simplicity. Most of us live rather average lives and in that sense, this story builds a connection with the reader. What would happen if we pursued ordinary happenings with extraordinary effort? As is expected, Laurent and Laure, two lonely people, find love and companionship because of his decision to find the owner of a purse…when it no longer seemed rational and when most people would have given up. I enjoyed this book. It was very French and very simple, yet it pushed me to think beyond the ordinary.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Gallic Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.