Ma liste à moi

If you found Le baladeur affecting, La liste de mes envies by Grégoire Delacourt may be the novel for you.


It’s easy to imagine Jocelyne, the main character in La liste de mes envies, as one of Julien Cernobori’s interviewees trembling before the micro. A modest haberdasher and increasingly successful blogger, she loves the life she leads in Arras, a village of 42,000 inhabitants that she derides as being épouvantable, sans aéroport. She also loves her husband. Their long marriage has produced three children, one of whom died at birth, and is devoid of pretensions. Husband Jo works for Häagen-Dazs, has told her she is pretty only once, and longs for a flat screen television along with the complete collection of James Bond in DVD. Instead of lighting out for greener pastures when she wins the lottery, she hides her ticket inside an old shoe.

I originally read La liste de mes envies with the book group at Alliance Française and returned to it again this summer. Why do we love the unpretty places we long to escape? And why do we love people who don’t always deserve it? The best questions are the ones that can never really be answered, like how Jocelyne’s lout of a husband could elicit my empathy near the end of the book.

He has never been a reader, but when Jo at last breaks down to read one of his wife’s favorite books, his reactions were uncomfortably familiar. Il s’ennuie parfois des longs monologues. Yup. Il se demande pourquoi il n’y a plus de ponctuation pendant plusieurs pages. Ditto. But this crappy husband’s breathing changes when he begins to read aloud and so does mine. I understand the kind of frustration over incidentals that disappears when you fall under the spell of a wonderful book.

The publishers have thoughtfully provided three empty pages for a liste of my own desires. I guess it comes as no surprise that I begin with my beloved bête noire.



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