Middle-age is a time for reflection. But for Jocelyne Guerbette, the 47 year-old owner of a local haberdashery in Arras, France, the stakes grow higher when she wins an $18 million lottery jackpot. For over twenty years, Jocelyne has lived an uneventful life in "a dreary town, no airport, a grey place." She has endured the loss of a child and marital ups and downs to a handsome man, now sober, who works for Haagen-Dazs and whom Jocelyne imagines dreams of driving a Porsche and being married to a younger, thinner wife. She loves her two adult children, but they clearly have lives of their own. Tending to the shop, cultivating light-hearted friendships and caring for an infirm and much-adored father have sustained her, along with maintaining a successful blog that has enough "unique visitors" that advertisers now want space.
Jocelyne narrates author Gregoire Delacourt's compressed, evocative novel. The story is structured in short, revelatory chapters infused with an unexpected twist that speaks volumes about the nature of truth, love and happiness. When Jocelyne learns of her lottery win, she is faced with a choice—to share the news or to hide the truth? As Jocelyne reassesses the startling truths and realities of her life, she compiles lists of what she might do with the winnings. Should she buy a potato peeler? A flat screen TV? Or maybe a home by the sea? But would the money wreck the however imperfect life that Jocelyne comes to believe she deeply loves?
Penguin Books, $15.00 trade paper, 9780143124658 , 176 pp
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (4/1/14), click HERE