Book Review: Delicacy

By: David Foenkinos
Published By: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
Page Count: 250
Buy it at Amazon or IndieBound
Source: Kindly Provided by the Publisher for TLC Book Tours
Audience: Adult - Realistic Fiction

Delicacy is novel that dances across your mind leaving behind small footprints of thought. At its basic level, it is a novel of love and tragedy paying homage to the resilient nature of the human spirit, but there is so much more lingering within these pages. The prose is sparse yet eloquent and thought provoking. There are no adjectives to hide behind - just an evaluation of what it means to love deeply, mourn lost love, and find new love in the most unlikely of places.

Natalie and Francois have one of those storybook romances. They meet on a street in Paris and from that moment on they are a couple. Although their romance is a very small portion of this book, I found myself wrapped up in it. They have so many similarities between my husband and I. Therefore, when tragedy strikes and Francois is killed on his Sunday run, my heart was broken along with Natalie's. I couldn't stop imagining how I would feel in her situation. I cannot fathom being without my husband - he is my partner and best friend. It doesn't make sense to me that he could kiss me while I was lounging about reading and take off for a run and then just be gone. A few tears were shed on my part as I watched Natalie navigate the rocky waters of widowhood. 

The remainder of the novel focuses on Natalie's return to work and her attempts to keep living when everything she lived for is gone. She throws herself into work and for three years cuts herself off from emotions. However, all that changes with a chance encounter with a quirky co-worker named Markus. Could Markus really be the key to Natalie waking up from her tragedy induced slumber? Could he really help her see that there is still joy to be had?

I love the language Foenkinos uses in his writing. It's gorgeous and haunting. Here are three examples of some lines that took hold of me and refused to let go:

- "Can you keep reading a book interrupted by the death of your husband?" (pg. 34)
- "On her body, the sentinels of death paraded nonstop." (pg. 47)
- " Truth often had the look of an iceberg." (pg. 62)

The writing is minimal yet speaks volumes. I love that the writing style and plot mirrors the very definition of delicacy. 

I really only have one complaint with this one. There were some elements and references that didn't make sense to me. I am not sure if this is a product of my ignorance of French culture or a product of the translation process. Overall, the few things that I had no schema around didn't cause a barrier to my enjoyment of the novel, but there were moments when I had to consult google to figure things out. I also feel like I may have missed some key points that were better explained in the original French version.

One Last Gripe: I enjoyed that the format of this one was different - there were interesting little tidbits placed between chapters - but at times it was an unwelcome distraction.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The writing style

First Sentence: Natalie was rather private (a kind of Swiss femininity).

Favorite Character: Natalie

Least Favorite Character: Charles

Reminiscent of novels by Nick Hornby, Muriel Barbery, and Jonathan Tropper, internationally acclaimed novelist David Foenkinos delivers a heartfelt and deftly comedic tale of new love brightening the dark aftermath of loss--and of wounded hearts finding refuge in the strangest of places. After her husband's unexpected death, Natalie has erected a fortress around her emotions--and Markus, clumsy and unassuming, will never be her knight in shining armor. Yet slowly but surely, an offbeat romance begins between these two mismatched, complex souls, and contrary to everything Natalie knows of affection, her perfect suitor may turn out to be love's most unlikely candidate--the fool, not the hero, who is finally able to reach her heart.

David Foenkinos is a French novelist and screenwriter. His novels have been translated into twenty-five languages and garnered ten awards around the world. Delicacy, which was first published in France, garnered nominations for all five major French literary prizes and has sold one million copies. Delicacy is now a film starring Audrey Tautou of Amelie and will be released in the United States in March 2012. David lives in Paris.

Check out the other great stops on this tour:

Tuesday, February 14th: The Lost Entwife
Wednesday, February 15th: Reading Lark
Thursday, February 16th: For the love of books
Thursday, February 16th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Monday, February 20th: Book Hooked Blog
Tuesday, February 21st: Life In Review
Monday, February 27th: Colloqium
Wednesday, February 29th: girlichef
Wednesday, February 29th: Books Like Breathing
Thursday, March 1st: Good Girl Gone Redneck


  1. "Can you keep reading a book interrupted by the death of your husband?" Wow ... what a thing to imagine. And no, I don't think I could continue reading the same book after that kind of interruption.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this for the tour.


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