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Novella set in Paris (the city of sadness and loneliness)

8th June 2014

Zenith Hotel by Oscar Coop-Phane, novella set in Paris.

IMG_1642This is a short novella that packs a punch. Descriptive, feisty, and full of Parisian flair. We asked two reviewers to share their thoughts with us:

Jacqui Brown via The French Village Diaries blog. You can connect with Jacqui via Twitter and Facebook – she beautifully captures her life in France and regularly reviews books and novels that are set there.

– I found Zenith Hotel by Oscar Coop-Phane to be a very descriptive book looking at another side of Parisian life, the harsh, grimy reality of following a day in the life of Nanou. Nanou is a street prostitute who lives alone in a grotty room at the run down Zenith Hotel, who writes to keep herself busy. Despite the subject matter this isn’t an explicit book, but does contain some references to sexual acts.

Interspersed with Nanou’s musings as she writes about her day and thoughts on her life are cleverly inserted snippets of the lives of those she encounters – her clients. The men with issues, problems and worries who for various reasons take solace in her arms and lead her off the cold street into a warm room for ten minutes. They are all different, but similar in that their lives are going nowhere fast.

This is a short, easy to read book but with a lot of sadness too. Paris is often written about as the city of love, but this shows another side, the loneliness of those who exist without the world really noticing. Nanou notices and is there for them, but who is there at the end of her day when she is back in her tired room, smoking a cigarette in silence. This is a book to make you think.

Isabella for the TripFiction Team:

– Life in the raw in the French Capital is astutely observed and brought to life in this novella. A book, populated by people trying to manage their lives, their footsteps reverberating across the hard tarmac of the arrondissements, the unforgiving structure that underpins each vignette. These are everyday human stories, told with care and attention to detail.

Ultimately we are all flesh and blood, with primal urges, and an innate sense of isolation that drives us to seek connection with others, in whatever form. These are mundane, urban adventures, drawing on base sexuality. Some characters take flight from everyday routine, whether in search of a green park, or another country. Others seek solace in transitory sexual couplings, or companionship in partners and in animals. But ultimately these are only brief encounters, they all come back to their lonely path, where death will come to them all.

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