Book Review: The Readers’ Room by Antoine Laurain

When the manuscript of a debut crime novel arrives at a Parisian publishing house, everyone in the readers’ room is convinced it’s something special. And the committee for France’s highest literary honour, the Prix Goncourt, agrees.

But when the shortlist is announced, there’s a problem for editor Violaine Lepage: she has no idea of the author’s identity. As the police begin to investigate a series of murders strangely reminiscent of those recounted in the book, Violaine is not the only one looking for answers. And, suffering memory blanks following an aeroplane accident, she’s beginning to wonder what role she might play in the story …

*****

A manuscript for a debut crime novel arrives on Violaine Lepage’s desk and everyone agrees that it’s going to be huge. The only problem is, no-one knows who the author is.

This becomes a bigger issue when it’s shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt, France’s highest literary honour.

Also, people start to die in similar circumstances to the novel, the Police come calling and Violaine wonders what part she has to play in everything.

I have become such a fan of Antoine Laurain’s novels and so I was excited to read this one and I was immediately intrigued by the premise.

This book is a mystery. Who is this writer and who is the person murdering people? I got drawn in straightaway, wanting to know who, where and why.

Set at a Publishers in France,  I wanted to be a part of the Readers’ Room team. I could also see myself in the setting. How Antoine Laurain describes the city and Violaine’s workplace and home – it’s all so vivid and beautifully written. I could picture this world through the eyes of these interesting, complicated and relatable characters.

I found Violaine a little bit of an enigma, at least to start with. It was nice to get to know her and, like many people, I think she is just trying to find a place to which she belongs.

There are some sad moments in this novella along with happy and bittersweet ones. Being 176 pages, the pace keeps going throughout.

The Readers’ Room is an enthralling novel which combines whimsical with crime and mystery. Not an easy thing to do. I enjoyed this book and look forward to seeing what comes next.

It’s yet another wonderful story from Antoine Laurain with translation by Emily Boyce, Jane Aitken and Polly Mackintosh.

 

About Antoine Laurain:

(Photo credit: Jean-Luc Bertini © Flammarion)

Antoine Laurain is a novelist, screenwriter, journalist, director and collector of antique keys. He is the author of the best-selling novels The President’s Hat and The Red Notebook.

A truly born and bread Parisian, after studying film, he began his career directing short films and writing screenplays. His passion for art led him to take a job assisting an antiques dealer in Paris. The experience provided the inspiration for his first novel, The Portrait, winner of the Prix Drouot.

Antoine’s novels have been translated into 14 languages, including Arabic and Korean. Sales of his books across all formats in English have surpassed 155,000 copies. The Red Notebook (2015) has become one of Gallic Books’ bestsellers both in the UK and the USA.

Sign up to Antoine’s newsletter by clicking here.

The Readers Room was published by Gallic Books. Click to buy on Amazon UK

(Thank you to Antoine and Gallic for the advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review.) 

 

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Laura
I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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