It goes without saying that the French know a thing or two about love. In his heartfelt, heartbreaking novel, translated from the French, award-winning writer David Foenkinos proves that he knows a great deal about men, women, love lost and love found.

At the beginning of Delicacy, young, beautiful Natalie appears to have it all: a high-powered job at a growing corporation, an exciting life in Paris and a great love with her husband François. François and Natalie met by chance on the streets of Paris—a romantic meeting place if there ever was one—and quickly settled into a blissful, dynamic courtship and marriage. Then the unthinkable happens: François is struck by a car and killed while out for a run, and Natalie’s whole world comes crashing down.

Of course her friends and family try to provide some comfort. Her smarmy boss, Charles, hopelessly in love with her, promises that her job will be waiting for her whenever she decides to return. And yet she simply cannot imagine a life without François. But life must go on, even for the brokenhearted, and Natalie eventually returns to work. There she discovers Markus, a co-worker she’s known peripherally for some time. He’s a Swede and a bit of an oddball, but for some reason, Natalie kisses him in her office one day, and the course of her life is forever changed.

Foenkinos writes beautifully, in simple language with many comic asides to the reader, and his portrayal of a woman in crisis is stirring. His characters—Natalie, Markus and even Charles—feel like people we know or would like to know. And the way in which his charming novel unfolds is pure reading pleasure.

It’s easy to see why this book has been adapted for the French screen, with Amélie star Audrey Tautou perfectly cast as Natalie. Reading Delicacy is like taking a vacation from one’s own world and stepping into the complicated life of another—complete with the pain of loss, the difficulty of starting over and the pure joy of falling in love.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The release date of this book has been changed by the publisher, HarperPerennial. It will be available in February 2012.

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