The review is another French book this week, for two reasons: I could almost justify it as revision for my imminent French exams, and it had been on my bookshelf for almost 18 months so I thought I would give it a read.
I must admit, it was a little odd reading a book that is set so close to Christmas time in May, and when the weather has been incredibly warm recently, but it by no means distracted me from the story itself.
There is no denying Clark’s ability to create suspense, I finished the Douce Nuit in a couple of days, purely due to the fact that I wanted to know what would happen next, where the narrative would lead and what would happen to Brian. However, I would say that this is more as a result of the plot, rather than a particular writing style, although, I should acknowledge that the book was originally published in English, so some stylistic elements may have been lost in translation.
I think the plot is incredibly charming, brilliantly capturing the impulsive and determined nature of a seven year old boy that is fiercely defensive of his family, as well as they sheer panic that would overwhelm his family in the case of his disappearance. I think the festive time setting of the book also added a little ‘something’ to the narrative, and is relevant and made reference to throughout the novel. It both intensifies the emotions, given the common belief that families should be together at Christmas, and, in some ways, lessens the emotions, given the belief in Christmas miracles.
There were enough characters in the narrative to make the scenario seem somewhat feasible despite the fact that, at points, I had to turn back a few pages to remind myself who was who, but there weren’t so many that some of their roles seemed empty or simply decorative. I did like this because it meant that the narrative was perfectly supported without becoming confusing or overcrowded. I particularly appreciated the presence of another child, Michael, in the narrative, as it meant that I got to experience the situation from another young point of view, which doesn’t often happen.
The narrative conclusion is happy and heartwarming, in the true style of a novel that is set at Christmas, and as would be expected in a situation as worrying as Catherine’s. However, I do appreciate a little complication in a narrative, and it did seem a little too convenient for my liking, but I don’t think I could expect much else from this genre of book.
All considered, I probably would recommend this book, but I would perhaps suggest that it is read over the Christmas period in order that the reader can get into a similar festive spirit as the characters would have been. I would actually be intrigued to read the book again in English in order that I could fully appreciate it stylistically as well as in terms of the plot.