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Hector & the Search for Happiness by François Lelord

About a week ago I’d just started reading this book when Simon at Savidge Reads (him again!) posted about it.  Simon wasn’t keen, and it seems the majority of commenters weren’t either – finding it too cute and patronising, but I was rather enjoying it as did Rosy B at Vulpes Libris who has written a brilliant piece about it.

It’s a simple premise. Hector is a young psychiatrist; he loves his job and is good at it, but he’s finding that sorting out depressed people every day was beginning to drag him down too. Also his longterm relationship with Clara is stagnating.  So he decides to take time off and travel around the world visiting his friends and colleagues to see if he can find out the secrets of happiness. He flies off around the world where he meets and falls for a Chinese callgirl, encounters a very wise old Chinese monk, negotiates with drug barons and gets kidnapped in Africa, and visits a professor of happiness while staying with friends in the land of ‘More’ before returning to work via another visit to the Chinese monk to tell him what he’d found out. All ends are tied then up neatly.

Hector’s author is himself a psychiatrist, and in the short Q&A at the back, he tells how he wanted to write a sort-of self-help book as a novel, but it is this epithet of ‘self-help’ that seems to have put peoples’ backs up.  If you ignore this aspect and read it as a novel, it is great fun, full of great observations about life, and it definitely has a droll sense of humour. The naive fablelistic (is that a word?) style may not be to everyone’s liking but suited me fine, although the neat ending was a bit of  a copout.

This the fourth title I’ve read from Gallic Books and I’ve enjoyed all of them, finding a strong liking for contemporary French literature. (8/10) I bought this book.

To order from Amazon.co.uk click below:
Hector & the Search for Happiness (Hector’s Journeys)

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