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When life is lemons...,
This review is from: The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles (Paperback)
French author Katherine Pancol has written an absolutely delicious comedy-of-manners, "The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles". Set mainly in Paris - and a bit in Kenya - the story is about the changes and challenges in life we're all forced to go through. HOW we handle those life challenges is at the essence of Pancol's novel. She is a noted author in France, and I think "Yellow Eyes" is her first novel translated to English.
Pancol's story centers around 40ish year old sisters, Iris and Josephine. Having lost their father at years earlier, they were raised by their mother, Henriette, who is truly the-mother-from-hell. (Henriette is really the only caricature in the book; all the others are nuanced and fleshed-out creations.) The two sisters take different paths in life; Iris is the glamorous wife of an international lawyer and lives a life of luxury. Josephine, the studious and quiet one, has settled with a dreamer for a husband and two daughters and works as a researcher in 12th century French history. The last point is important because the storyline revolves as much around that period in history as it does around the crocodiles in Kenya. Iris and Josephine's lives change when Iris persuades Josephine to write a novel set in 12th century France - think Eleanor of Acquitaine - that Iris will claim authorship of while giving Josephine the monetary proceeds. Iris needs fame and Josephine needs money after her husband goes off to raise crocodiles in Kenya with his girlfriend and she is left with raising her daughters by herself.
While all this sounds complicated, Katherine Pancol is a master of setting up a complicated plot peopled with many characters, who she juggles with ease. As I wrote before, the many characters - with the exception of Henriette - have their own identities. It's not difficult for the reader to keep up with each character, which goes a long way to enjoying Pancol's writing. There are no pat answers to the many challenges these people face, but all grow by the end of the book.
"The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles" was truly a fun book to read. I hope more of Pancol's work is translated into English!