I’ll be perfectly honest with you: I picked this book up for 50¢ at Hastings while my husband and I were out a few weeks ago. I did not have expectations, good nor bad, only the thought that it was a pretty good deal. I was drawn to the book from its summary of a young film critic covering the Cannes Film Festival despite emotional conflicts about being in France. With my own background in film studies and my somewhat naive delirium over the big festivals, I was sold. (And hey, it was half a dollar.)
Our hero, Natalie, loses her mother at a young age in a bizarre accident which occurs during a picnic in the French countryside. After the event, she is sent to live in New Mexico with a father whom she had never met. Her dad watches movies with her in various attempts to cheer her up and bond with her, and she starts writing as a professional film critic. In her years of press junkets and festival coverage, she never goes to Cannes; it is only the possibility of losing her house which persuades her to accept the well-paying assignment, and once she is there she is in a state of nearly constant turmoil. She misses the mother she never really knew, longs for the French cities she only half-remembers, and doesn’t understand how other people seem to have such a damn easy time connecting to one another. Once she finds a strange link between her mother and an acclaimed French producer, she calls on an old family friend to help her unravel the mystery of her childhood, of her mother, and of the love in her life she feels she has never truly experienced.
It’s a fun, quick read — what you would probably call a “beach read” or a “poolside read,” even though I read it laying on my carpet with a cat on my knees — which gives great insider information about the life of a film journalist while tenderly exploring the things in the past which hold us back from the future. I especially enjoyed the various film and meteorological quotes at the beginning of each chapter; they set a great tone and helped compliment numerous analogies throughout Natalie’s journey to lightning storms and the film industry.
I wound up really enjoying this book, and I am glad I went out on a limb and picked it up.