Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Wish List

On se ment toujours. We are always telling ourselves lies. Such a powerful opening line. After reading Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, I wanted a quick read so I read the book   My Wish List in one sitting, the  English translation of the French novel La liste de mes envies written by GrĂ©goire Delacourt. The English translation  is by Anthea Bell.

We all have our wish lists. Some wishes will remain wishful thinking while some dreams can be achieved if we work hard and are determined  enough. There are always things we regret and wish we had not  got ourselves into some situations we are in or wish that we could have done things differently  but  would you really want to trade your life for the life of your dreams if you could  ? What if you won the lottery ?
In My Wish List, Jocelyne Guerbnette lives in Arras where she runs a fabric shop and a successful blog about knitting, embroidery and dressmaking. She is married to the same man for twenty-one years and has raised two children who are living their own lives now.  She is beginning to wonder what happened to those dreams she had when she was seventeen and whether her life could have been different.  It is a familiar theme. One chance in seventy-six million, and it happened to her. She has won the lottery. Yet the protagonist somehow has a sense of ambivalence when she finds out that she has won eighteen  million euros , 18,547,301 euros and 28 centimes to be exact .You would think that the answer is straightforward because with all those money, you could leave your mundane job, change your wardrobe, get the car and house you want, go places, dine in all the Michelin starred restaurants  and pursue whatever luxuries  that money can buy. Not Jocelyne. She tells nobody when she wins the lottery. She only tells her stroke afflicted father who lives in a present that lasts six minutes as he is suffering from dementia and every six minutes he will ask who she is and if her mom is coming to see him. The story is narrated in Jocelyne’s voice which is authentically female and the sensibility is quintessentially French.

In Jocelyne’s voice,
 ‘ Being rich means seeing all that’s ugly and having the arrogance to think you can change things. All you have to do is pay for it.’

Jocelyne makes her wish list. Her wishes are modest and she loves the life that she has had with her husband and in her hesitation,  things   spin  out of control. 

The charming fable seems to answer the perennial hypothetical question  that money changes everything yet nothing that really matters to you. It is thought provoking and melancholic. The novel had me hooked from its first line, a delightful read indeed.


  1. great review, I also enjoyed this book very much