Three and a half stars, really. A very simple, sweet love story. Natalie and Francois had the kind of whirlwind romance that chick flicks have taught us we are supposed to long for – a chance encounter and they are instantly in synch. They are deeply content for the next seven years, until Francois is hit by a car while out running. Delicacy
is the story of how Natalie grows beyond her grief and despair and learns to love again.
The storytelling reminded me of Graham Green’s The End of the Affair
in its directness and simplicity. Foenkinos doesn’t hide behind adjectives, but he still manages to tug at your heart with thoughtful lines like, “Time went by with such fluency, on that rare talent of being alive.” Foenkinos breaks up his chapters with lists of things like albums John Lennon would have released had he not been murdered (the soundtrack to Titanic
?), dictionary definitions, and quotations. I loved this addition to the story, as it adds a quirky extra element to the narration. One of my favorites is headed Thought of a Polish Philosopher
There are incredible people whom we meet at the wrong moment. And there are people who are incredible because we meet them at the right moment.
My only complaint – the only thing keeping this from being a true four-star book – is that there are times it’s almost too
simple. I sometimes found it a little difficult to completely lose myself in Natalie and Markus, even though I desperately wanted to. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I have a feeling that it has more to do with my own brain than anything Foenkinos may or may not have done.
There is a footnote in a scene in which Natalie tries to make a new female friend: “Actresses imagined by the director: Audrey Tautou as Natalie and Melanie Bernier as Chloe.” Of course, the movie does star Tautou as Natalie and Bernier as Chloe and I can’t help but wonder about the conversations that led to this lovely bit of continuity.