Jean Perdu — John Lost, get it? — casts off to the South of France to let go of an old love and make room for a new love. His old love, Manon, is from Provence and married to a local man. She breaks it off with Perdu and sends a letter after returning home. Perdu doesn’t open the letter for 21 years. Now, I have to say, that doesn’t ring true to me. How could anyone not open a letter for all those years? He lives with the angst of lost love until he donates a table to a neighbor. The neighbor, being a woman and full of curiosity of course, finds the letter in the table’s drawer, opens it and forces Perdu to face the music. Manon is dying of cancer.
If that sounds cheesy, well it is, but also entertaining. Wracked with guilt, he casts off on a whim to find out what’s happened to his lost love. He made no preparations for the trip. A young novelist literally jumps aboard to go along for the adventure. Without provisions and cash, the duo pay for things with books.
Here’s a passage I like, “Habit is a vain and treacherous goddess. She lets nothing disrupt her rule. She smothers one desire after another: the desire to travel, the desire for a better job or a new love.” Being open to fully experiencing life with its ups and downs and facing each head on is the theme of this book. It’s scary to change things; to break away; to drop old habits.
The most enjoyable things in the book are the descriptions of the towns and food along the way. It’s a story of the heart and letting go, but it’s also a travel story. A bonus are the recipes in the back of the book; cooking recipes and literary.
Nina George is a German writer and freelance journalist who’s published 26 books in her native language.
— Lynn Lofton, email@example.com
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