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Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt is a playwright, a novelist and a writer of short stories; he is one of Europe's most popular authors and has been awarded the French Academy's Grand Prix du Theatre. `The Most Beautiful Book in the World' is described on the book's cover as being a collection of eight novellas - although I feel that the term short stories would be a more accurate description of this wonderful selection of contemporary fables.

The title story `The Most Beautiful Book in the World' takes the reader to a women's gulag in Stalinist Russia. The women are desperate to smuggle out letters to their daughters and, in order to accomplish this, they have removed the cigarette papers from their tobacco ration and hidden them until they have something with which to write. When a new prisoner arrives in the ward, and the other women discover she has smuggled in a pencil, they are now ready to write their messages; although it is not quite as easy at that. As each woman has a limit on the amount of words they can use, not one of them can think of what is the most important thing to write. Finally the woman who is "the most scatterbrained of them all" is the first to write her message down - and when the other women see what she has written, there is a collective sigh of relief, for now the other women know what to write for their daughters. What on earth has she written...?

In another story `A Fine Rainy Day' we meet a young woman who, in her search for perfection, laments the fact that her figure - although acknowledged to be beautifully shaped - is not perfectly symmetrical; she worries that her lovers - although initially seeming the perfect mate for her - always fall short of her ideal. However, when she meets Antoine, who always makes the very best of everything, she begins to wonder if while she has been searching relentlessly for happiness, she has missed that very thing right in front of her. It takes a tragedy and several years of searching before she is able to understand what Antoine already instinctively knew.

This is an imaginative and intriguing collection of stories which move from everyday occurrences to the rather unusual, with each tale containing the simple, but often overlooked truth, that happiness is there for those who look in the right places. I bought this collection to keep in the car so that I could read a little of it here and there, but once I had read the first story, I took it out of the car (and straight to the sofa with a glass of wine) and just carried on reading. I very much enjoyed these short stories and I am now looking to see what else Amazon has to offer by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt.

4 Stars.
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VINE VOICEon 25 July 2010
I am not usually a great reader of 'short stories'. I always find somehow frustrating that just as you get into one, bam it's over. Yet this book is utterly different. While being made of eight short stories, they are all so magnificently written and totally compelling that for once the shortness does not matter at all. Each story is absolutely riveting and perfect. Eight very different woman, all in very different strand of life, each story catches a depth of emotion, manages a quality of insight rarely equalled. I am very surprised that this book has never been reviewed here before, if only because it has such a striking, beautiful cover. All stories are immensely uplifting and wise but in a very 'sober' way. Eight little rays of sunshine that definitely warm-up your heart. Strongly recommend.
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VINE VOICEon 3 July 2012
Creative 8 short stories. Easy to read and enjoy . I read this first in French under the title 'Odette Toutlemonde et autres histoires'. I then bought it in English for a present and it is Titled ' The most beautiful book in the World'. Obviously these are two of the 8 short stories. Eric- Emmanuel is a wonderful creative writer good style and stories. However if you want 'depth' in short stories this might not be for you.
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on 6 June 2014
Brilliantly written , I read these short stories as part of our book group. Each one is a treasure and the whole 8 stories cannot be described easily, other than to say they are about women , death, and optimism. Do read them!
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on 25 September 2016
This author is a great find. I shall endeavour to read more. This book is indeed very beautiful to read and incredibly inspiring. Enjoy.
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on 18 July 2013
Just read its wonderful!Take with you to the beth, garden or for holidy and have beautyful moments! i hardly recommend this storys.
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on 25 February 2013
Compilation of short stories ideal for travel when time is short or when sat on a beach. Enjoy I did
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on 13 March 2015
I bought this in English and French for my French course. It is the most BORING book in the world. Who on earth thought up the title has a vivid imagination. There isn't even a contents page and the chapters are just plain boring.
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on 29 June 2013
I rarely stop reading a book halfway through, I have done it maybe 4 times in my life, but I'm abandoning this book halfway through story 3 tonight. It seems to me so appallingly written (maybe it is just the translation, but I doubt it) it is so predicable, yet self congratulatory; one of the stories about an elderly woman with dementia the 'plot twist' is screaming out from about the second page. I am so disappointed with this, not 'The Most Beautiful Book In The World' as much as 'The Most Contrived Book In The World'.
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