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Hector Finds Time by François Lelord
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Hector Finds Time (2006)

by François Lelord

Series: Hector (3)

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Bloggers and Goodreads reviewers regularly debate whether the star rating given to a book should reflect how much that reader actually enjoyed the book or, instead, how well the book accomplished what it set out to do, even though that particular reader did not enjoy it. I didn't really appreciate this distinction until I read Hector Finds Time, written by François Lelord and translated from the French by Carol Gilogley.

I did not enjoy this book, which felt to me like a more puerile version of Jostein Gaarder's Sophie's World , in that both books are philosophy texts disguised as novels. According to the review snippets at the beginning, Marie Claire described Hector Finds Time as "intelligently naïve"; I'm not so sure about the "intelligent" part, but I certainly agree with "naïve." Take this excerpt which appears on the third page of text, keeping in mind that Hector is supposed to be a psychiatrist:

"Over time, Hector had gradually changed the way he worked. At the beginning, he mainly tried to help people to change their outlook. Now, he still did that, of course, but he also helped people to change their lives, to find a new life that would suit them better. Because, to put it another way, if you're a cow, you'll never become a horse, even with a good psychiatrist. It's better to find a nice meadow where people need milk than to try to gallop round a racecourse. And, above all, it's best to avoid entering a bullring, because that's always a disaster.

Sabine would not have been happy being compared to a cow, even though cows are actually kind and gentle animals, Hector had always thought, and very good mothers too. It's true that she was also very clever, and sometimes this didn't make her happy, because, as you might already have noticed, sometimes happiness is not knowing everything."

Despite the feeling that Lelord was talking to me as if I were in kindergarten, I struggled on to the end, where I found Lelord's explanation as to why he created Hector and his adventures (Hector apparently has searched for happiness and love, in addition to time):

"I wanted to tackle psychological and philosophical themes in an entertaining way; to revive the French tradition of philosophical contes, or fables; [and] to both move and enrich my readers[.]"

Were I to rate Hector Finds Time on how well Lelord accomplished his first two stated goals, I would give it 4 stars, and if I had known from the start that it was supposed to be a philosophical "fable" (although I suppose the opening words "Once upon a time" probably should have alerted me), I might have enjoyed it more. As it was, though, I found Hector Finds Time amusing but, ironically, a waste of my time.

I received a free copy of Hector Finds Time through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  BrandieC | Dec 14, 2015 |
Rather banal story. I read it for my book club in July. Parts of it made me think, but the tone (the voice) of the storyteller was so annoying that I couldn't like it. It was all written as if for a 5 year old with learning disabilities. And Hector's infidelity to his partner Clara was constantly referred to as little "stupidity". I hated that.
  verenka | Jun 13, 2010 |
Overly simplistic, a collection of commonplace, slow and mostly unenlightened.

This book helped me remember that every reader has the right to stop reading. From p 128 on I just skimmed. ( )
  alv | Jan 11, 2009 |
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