Published by Orion on 10th September 2015. My thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for my review copy.
This novel has been translated from the French by Anthea Bell.
Imagine you are a young mechanic living in a small community in France. You own your own home, and lead a simple life. Then, one evening, you open your front door to find a distraught Hollywood starlet standing in front of you. This is what happens to Arthur Dreyfuss in the village of Long, population 687 inhabitants.
But although feigning an American accent, this woman is not all that she seems. For her name is Jeanine Foucamprez, and her story is very different from the glamorous life of a star. Arthur is not all he seems, either; a lover of poetry with a darker past than one might imagine, he has learnt to see beauty in the mundane.
THE FIRST THING YOU SEE is a warm, witty novel about two fragile souls learning to look beyond the surface - for the first thing you see isn't always what you get!
Allegedly this was the book that Scarlett Johansson tried to ban. I can't really see why! Arthur Dreyfuss lives in a small town in France. One day he opens his front door to a damsel in distress who he believes to be Scarlett Johansson. Only it isn't, it is a lady who looks like her called Jeanine Foucamprez.
They embark on a brief love affair, both characters with their own faults and quirks.
The premise of this story sounded very good, I like quirky. Anything different, I don't mind. Whilst this book isn't run of the mill, I am sure a lot of the references and things were completely lost on me. I really wanted to love this, but I just couldn't.
It is a short book at 244 pages. I think I understand the themes it was trying to portray. People aren't what they seem, don't judge people by their appearance, etc.
The best part of this story was the frailty with which the author draws his characters. There instability makes them reckless though. I did like the poetic style with which some of the passages were written.
All in all, this book has left me with a sense of confusion. It is these kinds of reviews that I hate to write.
If anybody else has read this and wants to give me their take on it, that would be fabulous.
About The Author:
Gregoire lives in Paris where he runs an advertising agency with his wife. He has written five novels and has won awards. His previous novel The List of My Desires has rights sold in twenty - seven countries and was selected for the Waterstones Book Club.