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Hunting and Gathering Paperback – April 3, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books (April 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159448144X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594481444
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Love cures all that ails the troubled trio of "no-hopers" in this sentimental second novel by French literary sensation Gavalda (Someone I Loved; I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere). Camille, a talented artist exhausted by ennui and anorexia, cleans offices at night and cowers in a shabby garret by day. Philibert, the fastidious scion of a titled family, peddles museum postcards while squatting in his dead grandmother's Parisian manse, waiting for her estate to be settled. Philibert's roommate, Franck, a talented (and womanizing) chef with ambition to burn, motorcycles once a week to look in on his stubborn, ailing grandmother Paulette, an "inmate" at a retirement home. When Philibert finds Camille deathly ill one day, he rescues her from her icy garret and deposits her in his shabby but spacious home. Franck and Camille take an immediate dislike to each other, a sure sign that they're bound to fall in love—which happens, cutely, after they liberate Paulette. That's when, "for the first time, each and every one of them felt like they belonged to a real family." Gavalda's comically implausible and comfortably predictable novel of misfits is a Gallic charmer anchored by breezy and poignant storytelling. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

This international best-seller from one of France's rising literary stars is sure to be a popular book-club choice. Although Gavalda (Someone I Loved, 2005) amps up the pathos, she delivers a winning portrait of a group of misfits who band together to form their own family. There's socially awkward aristocrat Philibert, who is living in his dead grandmother's grand if sparely furnished Parisian apartment until her will has been sorted out; his handy but uncouth roommate, Franck, a talented cook who is heartsick over having to commit his grandmother to a nursing home; and gifted artist Camille, who works cleaning offices and suffers from anorexia. When Philibert finds Camille in her freezing attic apartment exhausted from a fever, he nurses her back to health. The chef and the artist take an immediate dislike to each other and then promptly fall in love, and the three then "embark on what might turn out to be the most beautiful days of their lives." Gavalda casts her immensely appealing story in such a sunny albeit sentimental light, readers will find it nearly impossible to resist. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

They are really nice pages!
Desiree Liu
I love the independence of the characters who all had a great humanity buried under personality problems.
I found her work to be exactly like her characters: beautiful in its simplicity.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Bookphile TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
Hunting and Gathering is a novel where people are the story. There is no bombastic action or elaborate plotting. It is simply the tale of a group of people all suffering from our common affliction: human frailty. Significant past events are relayed by the characters in their own unadorned words and the novel is all the better for it. It has all of the beauty, all of the tentative nature and all of the base human fear and stupidity that characterize life.

My favorite character was Philibert. An unpretentious intellectual with an enormous inferiority complex, he is also the simplest and kindest of the main characters. I loved his sincere and deep-rooted sweetness and tenderness. I think Gavalda also uses him to make something of a point; that strange person that so many of us do our best to avoid may be one of the best human beings we could ever hope to meet.

Camille is nicely drawn as a woman most afraid of her own wants and needs. She can be highly irrational and irritating but she's always sympathetic because she acknowledges her own flaws and doesn't try to justify them. I loved the vivid descriptions of her drawings. Gavalda phrased them so beautifully that I could see the drawings and paintings in my mind's eye.

The character I found most surprising was Franck. He was initially so unlikable and. once again, Gavalda doesn't try to pretty up or excuse his behavior. There are reasons for it but not justifications and Franck grows a lot over the course of the novel. He's something of a foil for the other two due to his noisy and dramatic initial decline--a great contrast to the gentleness and passivity of Camille's and Philibert's.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By K. Caldwell on May 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
I don't know how else I can describe this book except to say that I disliked absolutely nothing about it. Except that it had to end.

These last few weeks have been enjoyable, and thought provoking, getting to know these strangers as they met and came together, all of them sad and yet hopeful in their own ways.

The Parisian setting had its own appeal, but that was not the story. The story was these characters, their journeys and growth. The story came alive through these characters and their ability to continue existing and enduring.

I felt happy and hopeful upon finishing their story. I'm only sad that it had to end.

Even before I started reading, I had the feeling that I would really love Hunting and Gathering. And I was right. I believe it very quickly joined the list of my all-time favorite books, one that I will gladly read again in the future.

Anna Gavalda has a great talent that truly took me by surprise, and I look forward to reading her other novel and short stories. Hunting and Gathering was a journey well taken and one I will encouragingly recommend to others.

ON EDIT/Aug 22, 2013:

Just recently re-read this book, as it had been five years and I had loved this book so much. The happy news is that I loved it just as much. I felt like the characters were old friends I had the opportunity to meet up with again. And it was a wonderful feeling. Still remains a favorite book of mine.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By laroja on April 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
Fun, captivating story about three otherwise isolated Parisians tied together sharing an apartment, who are eventually joined by one of the character's aging grandmother. Poignant insights into the basic social breakdown, and heart-warming praise forthe triumph human compassion and kindness.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Desiree Liu on April 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
I really liked everything about this book down to the pages it was written on. They are really nice pages! I felt all warm and fuzzy after reading this book and can't wait to read her other book I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere. I didn't want to put this book down and was upset when I was forced to. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends. I usually give books about 100 pages to spark my interest, but this book did so immediately.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Lopez Acosta on February 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
I find myself coming back to this book every couple of months. I cant't seem to let go of the story, the characters are so alive and palpable, yet completely out of the ordinary. They bring out their personalities in the most trivial situations and just jump off the page. you want to know them, you want to know what's behind the pain that brought them together inside that weird, fancy apartment.

I'm into stories that narrate how people heal together. This book takes its own pace to show the evolution in their feelings toward each other; I love Philou's growth of confidence and Franck's growing warmth towards Camille. it's real, visceral, absolutely adorable but not excatly cheesy. it's as simple as the man he thinks he is, but as big as his own heart.

Paulette's character is fully known towards the middle section. I wish Gavalda would have written a little more about her. The dialogues between her an Camille are beautiful; actually all the dialogues in this book are excellent, I think it's it's strongest point. Even as a transtation, I don't think it misses out on anything.

Now here comes the downfall; I didn't give it 5 stars because of the ending. Perhaps most of the people rating here loved it, but I felt it was too rushed, too patched up and not entirely plausible. Of course that HAD to be the ending, otherwise millions of readers would turn this book to shreds. I just think these characters deserved an outcome that wasn't a reminiscence of your typical american chick-flick. It seemed unreal (not the way it ended per se, but HOW it was plotted by the author), especcially the epilogue. it bothered me a little. but that's just me. If you like these sorts of endings, ignore the missing star.

Just read this book. It will make you cry, laugh, and hope. We do need that around more often.
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