- Book: Lean on Me
- Location: Paris
- Author: Serge Joncour
It is delightful that this novel, in translation, is now available in English. It is an unassuming storyline with a peppy heart that is well observed, charming and takes a wry look at life in Paris.
Aurore and Ludovic live in the same old style apartment house but on different staircases, on opposite side of the central courtyard. The yard is plagued by the new arrivals, a murder of crows (note the collective noun, it is not altogether insignificant), who have ousted the other birds and are now causing an intrusive commotion. Aurore is spooked by their presence and it is because of their existence that the two people happen to meet. It is not an easy encounter but after Ludovic rescues her household when the boiler goes seriously wrong, they find their encounters a little more digestible.
Aurore is married with children. She is a fashion designer going through difficult times, garments are turning out shoddily made and ill-fitting, and she is on her uppers. Her husband, conversely, is climbing the greasy work pole quite successfully. Her marriage is functional and not particularly happy. Ludovic buried his wife a few years ago and departed from the family farm so that others could reap the few benefits of farming life, and has come to Paris to work as a debt collector. We are treated to little insights into their lives, both at work and at home, as they gradually come alongside to forge a meeting of souls, and perhaps just a little more.
The novel is very well translated – the text is fluid and still has a sense of the original French without being in the least bit jarring.
The novel is well observed, there are snatches of wry humour and there is a humanity about the story which is refreshing for these times.