Hunting and Gathering focuses on four quirky characters who become unlikely friends and roommates, ultimately saving each other. Although slow to start and a bit predictable, I found as the characters' back stories emerged, I became invested in each of their lives and grew to like them all. Heartwarming and at times humorous, Gavalda's novel is the book equivalent of a romantic comedy.
'Hunting & Gathering' is a tour de force for writer Anna Gavalda. Amazing insight into the lives of her 4 protagonists: Paulette, an aging octogenarian in denial of her limited & rapidly diminishing ability; Franck, her self loathing grandson; Philibert, the out of touch roommate; & Camille, the girl upstairs who becomes, unwittingly, the catalyst for change. Gavalda masters the art of fleshing out female characters; the men are caricatures. That said, it's their relationships and partnerships which pull them together and consequently pull them up. A parable for modern times, 'Hunting & Gathering' has a more apt French title: 'Ensemble, C'est Tout' - together, that's everything.
The novel Hunting and Gathering by Anne Gavalda takes us to Paris, the city of Light, but you’d be surprised how many broken people occupy a place known for romance. You have Camille an artist unaware of how truly talented she is hiding in a freezing hovel wasting away and working nights cleaning office buildings, Franck who has no time to visit the grandmother who raised him, but rather slaves away in a restaurant that is not his and lacks the intimacy in his one nights stands to create a real relationship, Philou, Franck’s roomate, who disguises his anxiety by memorizing the factoids and histories of France and can recite his entire family tree, and Paulette, Franck’s lonely grandmother, covering up the bruises so no one will notice she is falling apart. When these four strangers’ lives begin to intertwine they heal in ways they never imagined. This novel was also made into a French film titled Ensemble, C’est Tout starring Audrey Tautou.
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