At the publishing house where she is employed, Violaine Depage worked her way up from the readers’ room, where manuscripts from the slush pile are discovered, to Editorial Director. But after an unfortunate accident that left her in a coma, she’s recovered to find the publisher in a sticky dilemma. It turns out that the hit novel Sugar Flowers (a reader’s room discovery) has just been longlisted for the Prix Goncourt, and Lepage is hiding that she doesn’t know who the true identity of Camille Désencres, the book’s author - what publishers might call a Full Ferrante. What Elena’s publishers didn’t have to deal with is a visit from the police – several of the murders documented in the novel have been duplicated in real life and are now under investigation. The mood is a little darker than Vintage 1954, but the results are no less Antoine-esque. Each character is brought to life with the quirky details Laurain does so well, a few literary figures make an appearance (though aside from Stephen King, perhaps more illusion than reality), and the offers up connections to Laurain’s past works, including French Rhapsody and The Red Notebook, which was recently on the Duchess of Cornwall’s quarantine reading list.— Daniel Goldin
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, I sure do love European crime dramas, but I wonder what they would be like under pen of a French novelist who delights in toying with all the twists and turns an ‘ordinary’ life can take - well then, have I got the book for you! Laurain is as charming as ever in his latest, and he uses his signature narrative detours to build up a mystery around a hit novel’s missing author and its editor’s missing memories. Particularly enjoyable are the peeks into the world of French publishing – the career twists of an editor, the craze of awards season, and the trials each manuscript faces as it makes its way from its author’s pen to a reader’s hands. While maybe it’s not the right book for the hardest-boiled mystery fans – Laurain more gestures at the genre than fully embraces it, though he does dial up the gritty to multiple-murder levels - anyone who likes a novel that zips from city to city and from decade to decade throughout France with Marcel Proust’s walking stick in tow is going to want to spend an afternoon in The Readers’ Room.— Chris Lee
Alliance Française de Milwaukee and Boswell present Antoine Laurain, author of The Red Notebook, The President's Hat, and now The Readers' Room. Join our Zoom event on Tuesday, October 20, 2 pm CDT (that's 9 pm in France!) at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0vf-uoqzIpHtFnge85551qRVr785axnfZe . Note that this book is also available in paperback.— Boswell Book Company
'The plot blends mystery with comedy to great effect'- Daily Mail
'A profound love of books and authors underpins this sprightly mystery' - Publishers Weekly
'A quirky, clever mystery with a unique plot' - Candis
'Another winner for Laurain' - European Literature Network
When the manuscript of a debut crime novel arrives at a Parisian publishing house, everyone in the readers' room is convinced it's something special. And the committee for France's highest literary honour, the Prix Goncourt, agrees.
But when the shortlist is announced, there's a problem for editor Violaine Lepage: she has no idea of the author's identity. As the police begin to investigate a series of murders strangely reminiscent of those recounted in the book, Violaine is not the only one looking for answers. And, suffering memory blanks following an aeroplane accident, she's beginning to wonder what role she might play in the story ...
Antoine Laurain, bestselling author of The Red Notebook, combines intrigue and charm in this dazzling novel of mystery, love and the power of books.
About the Author
Antoine Laurain is the award-winning author of six previous novels including The Red Notebook (Indie Next, MIBA bestseller) and The President's Hat (Waterstones Book Club, Indies Introduce). His books have been translated into 20 languages and sold more than 180,000 copies in English. He lives in Paris.