Author(s): Anna Gavalda
Consolation (La Consolante - the French title - is what players of boules call the consolation play-off match between the losers) was the bestselling French novel in 2008, with sales of over half a million copies and translations into thirty-two languages.
Darker and more complex than Hunting and Gathering (Ensemble, c'est tout), but just as dazzling, the second novel by the enchantress Anna Gavalda tells a heartbreaking, unusual story about one man, two remarkable women and an unforgettable transvestite.
A 47-year-old successful architect hears about the death of a woman, whom he once loved - Anouk, the tragically big-hearted mother of a childhood friend - and his life starts to unravel. Charles seems to have everything, but turns his back on the present to go in search of her past and his childhood, falling a long way down.
One day he finds himself on a Paris pavement covered in his own blood.
But, as the title suggests, fate holds out a final chance of consolation - when, far from his Parisian milieu, he meets Kate, an enchanting young woman, herself damaged but fearless and in love with life.
Alive with wit and vivid observation, sparkling dialogue and brilliant characters, this is a triumphant, spellbinding, finally consoling novel about life, love and second chances.
This second triumphant, spellbinding novel by the enchantress Anna Gavalda was the bestselling French novel in 2008.
Karen writes: This is the fourth novel from this French author and I found it just as beguiling but a little darker than the utterly charming Hunting and Gathering. Charles, a middle aged architect, is rocked by the death of Anouk, a childhood friend's mum, who was very dear to him as a child. This quest becomes an obsession to the exclusion of everything else. As his life unravels and his past confronts him he meets the beautiful Kate. One of Gavalda's great strengths as a writer is creating these wonderful, slightly quirky but utterly convincing characters of great heart. Consolation is perfectly weighted summer reading, not too heavy and not too light.
Born in 1970, Anna Gavalda was a teacher whose collection of stories, I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere, shot her to fame (published in Vintage together with her novella, Someone I Loved). Her novel Hunting and Gathering (Ensemble c'est tout) was a bestseller in several countries, selling over two million copies, and was made into a film. Her books have been translated into thirty-six languages. The mother of two children, she lives and writes just outside Paris.