My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When it was good, it was marvelous and when it was bad, it was supremely boring.
Here’s how it went-
I think I should backtrack a bit. When it was bad, it was supremely boring and eye-roll-inducing and happy.
It’s amazing how a book that starts off with such depressing characters in such deep shits can end so happily and hoppy-go-lucky-ily. With any other book, it would have been uncouth and it would not compute. But in Hunting and Gathering, it fits just perfectly.
No plot, no story, just plain character watching is not my kinda book. And it is everything that Hunting and Gathering is. Totally character-driven. Which is even more amazing because I didn’t even like the characters, especially in the beginning.
There’s Camille Facaque, whose blatant use of words like ‘slut’ for secretaries and the occasional holier-than-thou attitude is very unbecoming in a protagonist. But she grew on me, like creases on my books, in the sense that they both become endearing sorts after awhile.
Then we have Frank Lestafier, whose blatant use of sensitive terminology(oh and add this to Camille’s list too) like ‘rape’ and the general she’s-holier-than-thou attitude and off-hand treatment of previous girlfriends is very unbecoming in the male lead. But he’s still likable from the beginning, with the way he always put up a brave front and all.
Also, we have many side characters: the whining old woman, Paulette, whom I liked somewhat when we read from her POV but otherwise, not so much. The never-be-a-professor Philibert, and Yvonne, Paulette’s long term friend and caretaker whom I absolutely loved, precisely because she doesn’t play a major role in the book.
The thing that grabbed me some ways into the book was the way entire scenes were conveyed in the way of dialogues, with not a word in the otherwise. There were also some three-page monologues which would have been great had the Anna Gavalda made them the characteristic of one particular character, let’s say, Franck. But when every character in a hundred-page radius gives such long speeches, the reiteration not only becomes tiresome but also confusing.
That said, Anna Gavalda incorporates some emotions, folks. Had I lesser ice in my veins and my heart not so picky, I’d have been crying to shambles whilst reading this book. And I adore the way she writes. I really do. It’s very sublime(view spoiler).
The ending is abrupt and like I mentioned earlier and opportune and jovial. In fact, I hated it when I finished it earlier on my way to school, but those were just early morning jitters. For now, I’ve made my peace with it and I do like the last paragraph of the epilogue, much as it cramps my style.
Overall, the meh’s did not outweigh the pros nor did the opposit occur. And hence, the average rating. I would not not recommend it to anyone but neither would I go out of my way to recommend it to anyone. There are much more awesome books, IMO.