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Boxes by Pascal Garnier
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In my review of Pascal Garnier's The A26, I complained that Melanie Florence's translation was too British for a book set in France, and the same flaw plagues her translation of Boxes, where we encounter a "brolly" and a "chap" among other things. Unfortunately, Garnier's story is not strong enough to overcome the flat tone. For its first 157 pages, Boxes is an unexciting tale of a man moving house while he waits for his journalist wife to return from an assignment. The plot takes an interesting turn on page 158, but with only 11 pages left in the book, it's too little, too late.

This review was based on a free ARC provided by the publisher. ( )
  BrandieC | Nov 4, 2016 |
Synopsis/blurb......

Brice and Emma had bought their new home in the countryside together. And then Emma disappeared. Now, as he awaits her return, Brice busies himself with DIY and walks around the village. He gradually comes to know his new neighbours including Blanche, an enigmatic woman in white, who has lived on her own in the big house by the graveyard since the death of her father, to whom Brice bears a curious resemblance...
---------------
My take......

Boxes was my third read from Pascal Garnier, after enjoying The Front Seat Passenger and The Islanders.
http://col2910.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05...
http://col2910.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02...

Brice has moved to the countryside. His wife Emma will be joining him shortly, or so we believe. In his new home and new surroundings, Brice becomes overcome by lethargy and starts a descent into depression and mental disintegration. Though when compared to Blanche – his new found village friend, he’s the very picture of normality.

Things don’t end well.

Along the way Garnier treats us to some gems….

Brice arrives for tea at Blanche’s…

The tea was lukewarm and bitter, served in Duralex glasses, and the muffins that went with it were frankly disgusting.
“Do you like them? I baked them myself.”
“They’re delicious.”

Brice reminiscing bitterly over the inevitable Christmas gifts of his childhood……

The Meccano set with its misleading picture on the lid, suggesting you could build a near life-sized model of London Bridge, contained barely enough pieces for a miserable three-wheeled cart. (He had calculated that he would need twenty boxes for London Bridge, he’d have been about twenty-five by the time he finished his opus.)

Towards the end…….

Stealing away like a thief had nothing glorious about it, but it took a certain amount of courage to resolve to be a coward.

Dark, black, bitter, funny and more than a little bit sad.

4 from 5

Pascal Garnier sadly died in 2010. Gallic Books have brought us seven of his novels so far with the promise of more to come. They're website is here.
http://belgraviabooks.com/gb

Thanks to the publishers for my copy.
Read in August, 2015
http://col2910.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08... ( )
  col2910 | Aug 13, 2016 |
The cover of this book caught my eye and then when I saw the author being compared with Georges Simenon's psychologicals I just had to give it a try. I am a huge fan of Simenon's psychological novels (though not Maigret). Boxes is described as "noir" and in this case, that word means dark, cynical and depressing. It is comparable to Simenon but doesn't come close to his brilliance. I won't get into the plot as the book is a novella and we only know what is happening as it unravels with the plot. We do know at the beginning that Brice has moved into a new home he and his wife Emma bought, but Emma is missing. Why is eventually slowly revealed. Brice is not a stable person and he meets an equally unstable younger woman in the village to which he has moved. The atmosphere, the characters and the twists of plot are all morbidly bleak but I 'enjoy' unhappy books so that didn't displease me. In fact, I found some brilliant quotes that resonated with me. I do, however, feel that something may have been lost in the translation from the original French as there were some stilted sentences that just didn't flow naturally for me. The ending was abrupt and jarring to say the least. I understand it though I thought it could have been more eloquently written, perhaps it, again, was lost in translation. I am intrigued by the author however and would like to try him again. ( )
1 vote ElizaJane | Nov 30, 2015 |
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"Brice and Emma had bought there new home in the countryside together. And then Emma disappeared. Now, as he awaits her return, Brice busies himself with DIY and walks around the village. He gradually comes to know his new neighbours including Blanche, an enigmatic woman in white, who has lived on her own in the big house by the graveyard since the death of her father, to whom Brice bears a curious resemblance..." -- Back cover.… (more)

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