Can money buy happiness? That is the question at the core of Grégoire Delacourt’s quaint novel, My Wish List.
Jocelyne is middle-aged, has been married to the same man for decades, lives in a small provincial French town and runs her own dressmaking shop. Her life is quite different to what she imagined it might be. In fact, her life is ordinary. And then she wins the lottery.
“I’m happy with Jo. It’s not the life I dreamed of in my diary, when my mother was alive. My life isn’t as perfect as the one she wished for me… when she stroked my hair gently, murmuring: You’re an intelligent girl, Jo, you’ll have a good life. Even mothers tell lies. Because mothers are frightened too.”
I found My Wish List utterly charming. Although some of the characters and scenes seem a little ridiculous, the fable-like quality of the story prevails. To say it is ‘fable-like’ suggests big, moral themes but on the contrary, the story is beautifully introspective, melancholy and gently thought-provoking. Perhaps it’s because I’m in #campold that I could identify with Jocelyne’s motley wish-lists, which included a new vegetable peeler, a winter coat and a Porsche (for her husband).
“Because our needs are our little daily dreams. The little things to be done to project us into tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, the future… It’s the need for a non-slip bath mat that keeps us going. Or for a couscous steamer.”
The thing that I particularly admired about this book was how well you felt you knew the characters and yet, the ending completely took me by surprise. It is the perfect tale of how money can change everything and at the same time, nothing at all.
“Being rich means seeing all that’s ugly and having the arrogance to think you can change things. All you have to do is to pay for it. But I’m not as rich as all that… All I have is the temptation. A possible new life. A new house. A new TV set. Lots of new things. But nothing really different.”
4/5 An excellent way to spend an afternoon (it’s not a long book).
I received my copy of My Wish List from the publisher, Penguin, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
There’s a lovely little passage about an acquaintance of Jocelyne’s, her daughter and leek tart. Of course, I couldn’t find it but I did find an easy recipe for leek tart (by Gabriel Gaté – I loved him in the nineties…).