Consolation (La Consolante*) 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.(*The French title is what players of boules call the consolation play-off match between the losers).
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