The Most Beautiful Book in the World: 8 Novellas

The Most Beautiful Book in the World: 8 Novellas

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by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, Alison Anderson
     
 

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One of Europe's most popular and best-loved authors, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt captivates the reader with his spirited, buoyant style and enchanting stories that move effortlessly from the everyday to the fantastical. The eight stories in this collection, his first to be published in English, represent some of his best writing and most imaginative storylines: from

Overview

One of Europe's most popular and best-loved authors, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt captivates the reader with his spirited, buoyant style and enchanting stories that move effortlessly from the everyday to the fantastical. The eight stories in this collection, his first to be published in English, represent some of his best writing and most imaginative storylines: from the love story between Balthazar, wealthy and successful author, and Odette, cashier at a supermarket, to the tale of a barefooted princess; from the moving story of a group of female prisoners in a Soviet gulag to the entertaining portrait of a perennially disgruntled perfectionist. Here are eight contemporary fables, populated by a cast of extravagant and affecting characters, about people in search of happiness. Behind each story lies a simple, if elusive, truth: happiness is often right in front of our eyes, though we may frequently be blind to it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Eight well-developed, engaging stories by French novelist Schmitt (My Life with Mozart) delineate the complex emotional lives of women and their nettlesome men. Two of the tales play into the delicious stereotype of married Frenchmen carrying on parallel lives with longstanding amours. In “The Forgery,” a man breaks up with his mistress of 25 years, leaving the now middle-aged secretary living in low-income housing with nothing but his gift of a Picasso that might or might not be real. In “Every Reason to be Happy,” a chronically anxious wife follows a suspicious-behaving manicurist and unearths the staggering double life her husband of 17 years has been leading with this other woman. “Odette Toulemonde” is an adoring working-class fan of a washed-up popular novelist who ends up turning to her to authenticate his feelings. The odd tale here is the title story, set in a Russian gulag among a group of women prisoners who, sharing a pencil, struggle to write to their daughters. Schmitt’s stories capture a quirky, clever, feminist, very French sensibility. (Aug.)
Il Giornale (Italy)

Melancholy but edifying orator, light yet profound raconteur (like Diderot), Eric- Emmanuel Schmitt squeezes goodness from sorrow, places language, the word, on an altar, and derives from reality books that sell millions of copies.

Jean-Remi Barland

The Most Beautiful Book in the World is as affecting as it is intelligent. […] Eight stories, parables on the idea of a future, filled with redeeming optimism. Truth and beauty are here brought together. The Most Beautiful Book in the World […] has all the visual beauty and power of major literary works.
Lire Magazine (France)

La Libre Belgique (Belgium)

A born story-teller with a talent for telling ostensibly simple tales that nevertheless suggest a philosophy for life, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt [in The Most Beautiful Book in the World] takes the lid off the lives of eight women in eight contrasting portraits, each time with thought- provoking piquancy and suspense leading to an arresting and delightful end.

Kirkus Reviews
Eight stories about a variety of women from French playwright/novelist Schmitt (Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran & Oscar and the Lady in Pink, 2004, etc.). Several start with intriguing puzzles. Who is the old woman repeatedly breaking into Odile's Paris apartment? (The answer in "The Intruder" sheds an imaginative light on sickness.) What is the secret at the heart of Isabelle's apparently successful marriage, and why should it begin to unravel at her hairdresser's ("Every Reason to be Happy")? The title story's question is in a class of its own. The setting is a Soviet-era women's re-education camp in Siberia. The new arrival, Olga, has a wild tangle of hair: Why is that so important? All the women long to communicate with their faraway daughters, and it's deeply moving that the most ordinary among them hits on the perfect solution, revealed only in an epilogue. Schmitt's tales echo Maupassant's with their lean narratives, surprise endings, mordant humor and psychological acuity. That humor and acuity sparkle in "A Fine Rainy Day." Helene is a perfectionist and a malcontent; Antoine sees only the good. Their marriage is counterintuitive, yet it works. The eponymous "Odette Toulemonde," a humble Belgian shop assistant, is the devoted fan of a potboiler novelist with big problems. Odette shows him the way out, moderating a meeting with the novelist, his publisher and his difficult wife. Even the slighter stories have their charms. A touring actor returns to the Sicilian village where, years before, a beautiful young woman invited him to a fabulous restaurant and then to her bed ("The Barefoot Princess"). A discarded mistress picks the wrong target for her revenge in "TheForgery," which features a Picasso, while an old beach bum's really bad paintings fetch big bucks in "Wanda Winnipeg"; the world's wealthiest woman is repaying, finally, her first lover. Fairy tales and realistic studies happily coexist in this elegant collection.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781933372747
Publisher:
Europa
Publication date:
07/28/2009
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
1,315,685
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Melancholy but edifying orator, light yet profound raconteur (like Diderot), Eric- Emmanuel Schmitt squeezes goodness from sorrow, places language, the word, on an altar, and derives from reality books that sell millions of copies."

-Il Giornale (Italy)

"The Most Beautiful Book in the World is as affecting as it is intelligent. [...] Eight stories, parables on the idea of a future, filled with redeeming optimism. Truth and beauty are here brought together. The Most Beautiful Book in the World [...] has all the visual beauty and power of major literary works."

-Jean-RTmi Barland, Lire Magazine (France)

"A born story-teller with a talent for telling ostensibly simple tales that nevertheless suggest a philosophy for life, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt [in The Most Beautiful Book in the World] takes the lid off the lives of eight women in eight contrasting portraits, each time with thought- provoking piquancy and suspense leading to an arresting and delightful end."

-La Libre Belgique (Belgium)

Meet the Author

Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, playwright, novelist, and author of short stories, was awarded the French Academy's Grand Prix du Théâtre in 2001. He is one of Europe's most popular and best-selling authors. His books include Oscar and the Lady in Pink (1999), The Gospel According to Pilate (2000), and My Life with Mozart (2005). The film Odette Toulemonde, Schmitt's debut as screenwriter and director, was released in 2007.

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The Most Beautiful Book in the World: 8 Novellas 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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