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Delicacy: A Novel Paperback – February 14, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2012: David Foenkinos has been showered with accolades, including nominations for France’s top five literary awards, and here’s another: His new novel is one of the finest of the year. Sly and funny, with a dark patina that belies its nationality, Delicacy traces the relationship between Natalie, an ambitious young beauty, and Markus, a kind and bumbling introvert. She, suddenly widowed, seems untouchable; he has, as the French say, no game, but he manages to touch her anyway. We get the pleasure of watching it happen, and Foenkinos’s precise, insightful style makes us forget that these two are falling in love on the page and not right in front of us. Don't be fooled by the chick-lit cover or the forthcoming feature film starring Audrey "Amélie" Tautou. Delicacy isn't a bonbon, it's a main course--rich and nuanced and completely satisfying. --Mia Lipman

Review

“Delicate, funny, offbeat, and subtle...Foenkinos paces the novel well, breaking it up with songs, lists, footnotes, and other formal elements reminiscent of Nick Hornby or Rick Moody yet making them his own.” --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Original edition (February 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062004360
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062004369
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #837,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By coachsandi on February 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
I don't normally write customer reviews, but I absolutely loved this book and do not want it to slip by unnoticed. As someone whose first husband died too young, I could totally relate to Natalie's sense that her life had lost meaning, and that nobody could ever replace him. When an unexpected relationship develops with a co-worker in such a natural yet surprising way, I could hardly put the book down.

I always love a well written book, and this one delighted me with its refreshing style and word choices that kept me reading phrases and sentences out loud to my husband. Since this was a translation from the French, I found myself wondering how the original could possibly work as well as this! Delicacy reeled me in from the first words, and never disappointed me right through the last sentence.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By las cosas on February 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
A bestseller in France, this book is the first novel ever nominated for all five major French literary prizes.

Plot is not the point of this short novel, which makes it unlikely that it will repeat that popular success in the United States. Which is unfortunate, because this book successfully explores the emotional lives of its characters. As a nation we in the United States are addicted to the plot, to the shifts and plunges of a story. And for those in search of that adrenalin hit, this book will disappoint. But it has definite pleasures, and those linger much longer than the mere attraction of a storyline.

Start with the title: delicacy. It is a word not used much in daily life, an old-fashioned word. But appealing, intriguing, somewhat remote and even mysterious. But easy to pass over as a book title.

The gentle narrative arc of this book concerns Natalie, a beautiful woman in her twenties and thirties who hesitantly falls in love and marries Francois. He is killed in a bicycle accident. Francois in her grief buries herself in her work for the Paris division of a Swedish research firm where she navigates the relationships with her boss, Charles, and a subordinate, Marcus. And that is about it for the plot.

It is in the examination of the nuances of emotions and desire that this book excels. While the plot is thin, the intricacies of interior dialog and the great space given characters to think and react is highly unusual in current bestseller fiction. When Marcus and Natalie awkwardly stumble through their individual protective shells in search of emotional stability, the descriptions are nuanced, unusual and yet the reader understands the narrative consistency and fidelity to what we have earlier learned of these characters.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bp2000 on February 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not one to write reviews, but I was upset to see that this book had only garnered a one-star review. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found the author's writing style to be refreshing. It is a story woven from many perspectives of characters that are sometimes only passing through, and you feel an emotional attachment to each of them. The author is gifted with creativity and I truly felt like I was reading a work of art, up for interpretation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Unforgiven on February 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
This novel, written wonderfully by David Foenkinos in a beautiful, flowing prose style, is a story of love, loss, hope and learning to live again. The title is almost all you need to know about this book, for it is truly delicate in presentation, with both delicate characters and a delicate story. It is the story of Natalie, grieving from the loss of her husband, and Markus, a geeky, unassuming coworker of Natalie's. Peppered with factoids, anecdotes, song lyrics and verses of poetry, Delicacy is a touching and tender read. I recommend it highly to anyone who has ever dealt with loss and wondered how they could ever move on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
Francois meets Natalie. They fall in love and get married. Francois dies in an accident. Natalie is devastated. One day, years after Francois' death, she kisses one of her colleagues, Markus, on a whim. Could Markus be Natalie's lifeline back to love?

If I'd read that synopsis I would have said that no way would this be a novel I'd enjoy nor think it could possibly work, but having read the novel I can say "Delicacy" is a discovery for me - it's a really good novel. But it's more than a romance novel with nothing to offer but surface texture, its subject is what all great literary novels are concerned with: the human spirit and the human heart.

What makes someone love someone else? How does love happen? Both of Natalie's loves in the book are met by chance, and as for why, well, the novel doesn't really explain it. But who could? People just fall for other people. At one point, Natalie's boss Charles tries to make Natalie love him by mimicking her love Markus but of course it doesn't work. And it's not just looks, Markus is described throughout as odd looking, even ugly, while Natalie always positively, beautiful, goddess, the most beautiful woman in the office, etc. The story explores love tentatively which is maybe the only way to explore love - and of course draws no conclusions, just that two people found each other and fell in love.

The lightness of the story - there isn't a plot - and the fluid writing style that is unchallenging and simple (but not simplistic), make "Delicacy" both a quick read but also more enjoyable as you just get swept up in the story and can enjoy these two likeable people slowly come out of their own respective shells and find a reason to live.
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