Don’t you love to be pleasantly surprised as a reader?
From a book that lives up to the hype?
From a book that lives up to the hype you give it?
From a book that you heard nothing about, simply read the synopsis, gave it a chance and went in blind?
Well, that’s how I felt after reading The Travels of Daniel Ascher by Déborah Lévy-Bertherat, translated by Adriana Hunter. Quite the sensation in France but wasn’t released here in the US until May 26, 2015. It fell into that last category of not having heard of it, really. There was a promotional email I read some time back and then tagged it on my Edelweiss account, not sure if I would ever get to it. Then I did and what a lovely little book just over 200 pages.
Hélène moves to Paris to study archaeology and stays in a little room her great uncle lets her borrow. He lives on the ground floor and she sees him very little because of his world travels. You see, to her, he is just quirky great-uncle Daniel Roche but to the rest of the world he goes under the pseudonym H. R. Sanders. He wrote The Black Insignia series, a very successful children’s adventure series and is currently working on the 24th and last book.
Hélène doesn’t care for the books, in fact she has never read them, which is the main point of contention between her and her boyfriend Guillaume, who is a super fan. As she interacts with Daniel more and begins to read the treasured books, she delves deeper into the family history and secrets dating back to The Occupation.
What a beautifully written little book! To be honest, I feel I need a reread already because I devoured the story so quickly. The only thing that bothered me was the lack of quotation marks. There were none and maybe it was because I read an ARC but I’ve seen it done before and gets some getting used to. This translated novel incorporates mystery, adventure and historical fiction as well as some very interesting and well developed characters. Very quote worthy too but I had an ARC so it might be changed in the final printing. I loved this one that rang true for many elements in the book and in life:
“The plane rose above the clouds, the ocean disappeared. Perhaps that was what becoming an adult was, emerging from the clouds, leaving behind the sweet half-light of childhood, coming out of the blinding clarity of a truth you haven’t asked to know.”
*Thank you to Other Press and Netgalley for the digital ARC. I was not required nor compensated for my review.