Overview

Edith can hardly believe it when she learns that Fadila, her sixty-year-old housemaid, is completely illiterate. How can a person living in Paris in the third millennium possibly survive without knowing how to read or write? How does she catch a bus, or pay a bill, or withdraw money from the bank? Why it's unacceptable! She thus decides to become Fadila’s French teacher. But teaching something as complex as reading and writing to an adult is rather more challenging that she thought. Their lessons are short, ...
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Bitter Almonds

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Overview

Edith can hardly believe it when she learns that Fadila, her sixty-year-old housemaid, is completely illiterate. How can a person living in Paris in the third millennium possibly survive without knowing how to read or write? How does she catch a bus, or pay a bill, or withdraw money from the bank? Why it's unacceptable! She thus decides to become Fadila’s French teacher. But teaching something as complex as reading and writing to an adult is rather more challenging that she thought. Their lessons are short, difficult, and tiring. Yet, during these lessons, the oh-so-Parisian Edith and Fadila, an immigrant from Morocco, begin to understand one other as never before, and from this understanding will blossom a surprising and delightful friendship. Édith will enter into contact with a way of life utterly unfamiliar to her, one that is unforgiving at times, but joyful and dignified.

Translated by Alison Anderson (The Elegance of the Hedgehog, A Novel Bookstore, The Most Beautiful Book in the World)
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An unlikely friendship forms in Cosse's latest (after An Accident in August) between a well-off French woman Edith, and her 60-year-old Moroccan housekeeper Fadila. When Edith learns that Fadila can neither read nor write, she takes it upon herself to teach her. Edith arrogantly assumes she can improvise a curriculum based on a few Internet searches and purchased textbooks while Fadila, coping with poverty and conflicts among her family members, has little time to study on her own. This proves to be a frustrating and fruitless endeavor as Edith and Fadila find themselves two steps back for each one forward. The novel stutters along as Fadila learns some letters, forgets them, relearns and never making any genuine progress. Fadila, who has been married three times and is treated miserably by her adult children, is the more interesting character and her struggle to survive on little money and without basic skills in a foreign country carries the emotional weight of the novel. Nevertheless, the laborious, detailed descriptions of the reading lessons overwhelm the short novel and leave little room for the characters or their relationship to develop. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609451110
  • Publisher: Europa
  • Publication date: 4/2/2013
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 176
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Laurence Cosse worked as a journalist before devoting herself entirely to fiction. She is the author of A Novel Bookstore. She lives in France.
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