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French Exit: A Novel

French Exit: A Novel

Written by Patrick deWitt

Narrated by Lorna Raver


French Exit: A Novel

Written by Patrick deWitt

Narrated by Lorna Raver

ratings:
4/5 (57 ratings)
Length:
6 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Aug 28, 2018
ISBN:
9780062871923
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Editor's Note

A party you‘ll never forget…

A dark comedy of a once-wealthy widow, her adult son, and a cat that may be more than he seems leaving the Upper East Side of NYC for Paris. It’s a party with people you don’t want to hang out with in real life, rendered in prose you’ll never forget.

Description

From bestselling author Patrick deWitt, a brilliant and darkly comic novel about a wealthy widow and her adult son who flee New York for Paris in the wake of scandal and financial disintegration.

Frances Price—tart widow, possessive mother, and Upper East Side force of nature—is in dire straits, beset by scandal and impending bankruptcy. Her adult son Malcolm is no help, mired in a permanent state of arrested development. And then there's the Price's aging cat, Small Frank, who Frances believes houses the spirit of her late husband, an infamously immoral litigator and world-class cad whose gruesome tabloid death rendered Frances and Malcolm social outcasts.

Putting penury and pariahdom behind them, the family decides to cut their losses and head for the exit. One ocean voyage later, the curious trio land in their beloved Paris, the City of Light serving as a backdrop not for love or romance, but self destruction and economical ruin—to riotous effect. A number of singular characters serve to round out the cast: a bashful private investigator, an aimless psychic proposing a seance, and a doctor who makes house calls with his wine merchant in tow, to name a few.

Brimming with pathos, French Exit is a one-of-a-kind 'tragedy of manners,' a send-up of high society, as well as a moving mother/son caper which only Patrick deWitt could conceive and execute.

Publisher:
Released:
Aug 28, 2018
ISBN:
9780062871923
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

Patrick deWitt is the author of the critically acclaimed Ablutions: Notes for a Novel, as well as the novels Undermajordomo Minor and The Sisters Brothers, which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Born in British Columbia, Canada, he has also lived in California and Washington, and now resides in Portland, Oregon.


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Reviews

What people think about French Exit

3.8
57 ratings / 16 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    This is a Noel Coward play on acid. Frances Price is a sixtiesh widow who lives with her son Malcolm and has been blithely spending the estate of her late husband Frank who she says was a brute, but now inhabits the body of her cat called Small Frank. When her accountant tells her that there is no more money, she sells everything and decides to exit to Paris where she camps out in the apartment of Joan, the one friend she has in the world.In Paris, Small Frank goes missing and the search for. him includes a cast of characters straight out of Feydeau. In the end, it's the end of Frances, but the realization of Malcolm and several of the other characters. Small Frank is still inscrutable
  • (4/5)
    First the good news - compelling read, well-written and scathing story of the ulta-rich and their sad personal lives. Now the dark side - even though compelling, with a good cast of characters, the pincipal players are a sad lot and the heroine is amusing at times but veryunpleasant. Leaves me flat, like many Anerican east coast novels about privileged, dysfunctional, midly unlikeable characters not being very good to each other.
  • (4/5)
    It’s rather difficult to develop much sympathy for Rich People Behaving Badly who suddenly realize that the well has run dry. And that’s precisely the situation Frances and Malcolm Price find themselves in when Frances’ spending habits have managed to deplete the estate left by her late and largely unlamented husband. But deWitt isn’t asking the reader for sympathy. He paints Frances and Malcolm as generally without redeeming qualities. Frances is cold, manipulative, and condescending. Malcolm is a man-boy who has never been tasked with growing up. (All this of course gives the reader the chance to feel superior and to think that “If I had that much money, I’d certainly never blow it like that”, in a magical-thinking plea to Karma that Notice be Taken and that one be given the opportunity to demonstrate one’s ability to handle large buckets of cash for which one has not labored.)At any rate, mother and son decamp to Paris with every dollar they can manage to hide from their creditors, moving into an apartment loaned by a friend, where they begin to accumulate an odd collection of acquaintances. Frances’ ultimate goal is telegraphed pretty early on, and as she meanders toward it, deWitt reveals bits and pieces of their respective childhoods which go a long way toward explaining, if not excusing, their anhedonic behavior. Even the climax isn’t much of a climax, and Malcolm appears to be wandering toward the rest of his life with the same disaffected attitude he had shown all along.It’s a quick read, and some funny scenes play out in the Paris apartment, but overall it’s pretty dark humor.
  • (5/5)
    So much fun. Do not agree w reviewer classifying this as send up of 1%. Sensitive insight into anguish of grief more like. Funny Sad Engaging. Want to read more of his books.
  • (5/5)
    I was such a fan of the sisters brothers that I hesitated to read this one but I have to say I was not disappointed in the least. it is an utterly delightful, silly, black comedy with more than a twist of the absurd. I want a cat to name Small Frank now. It turns bittersweet by the end and I just loved every minute.
  • (4/5)
    3.5 Original, inventive, absurdist, all of these descriptions and more would be fitting. Wasn't quite sure where, in my head, to put this book, let alone how to come up with a rating. Generally, I rate like grnres with like genres, but this one seems to have an identity of its own. What a strange tale with some very unique characters, and a very unusual cat. A satirical comedy of manneres and errors, if you will.Maybe I was just in the mood for this, but I enjoyed this wuirky little albeit unbelievable story. It wasn't meant to be believed, but it does have some truisims within that were noted. This author is a master at dialogue, even when it was out there, way, way out there, the dislogue seemed totally natural. Some of these scenes I just found so darn amusing, had to reread them again, sometimes they seemed to just appear out of nowhere. So without rehashing plot, which is kind of impossible anyway, I'll just say I enjoyed this. Not the ending so much, but definitely the getting there. So, if you're in the mood for something different and entertaining, give it a shot.ARC from Netgalley.
  • (5/5)
    This book was great fun. Love the unlikeable characters who aren't really "unlikeable" but human.
  • (3/5)
    This novel was.....odd. I saw it described as a novel about people you don't actually want to know in real life, and that feels accurate. Humorous enough, and then halfway through there enters and entire subplot about a cat a reincarnation, and that's where I really lost the flow. But I finished it, so that has to mean something.
  • (4/5)
    Lovely narration of a book worth reading or listening to for its ability to challenge our notions of sympathetic (and antipathetic) characters.
  • (3/5)
    This novel was.....odd. I saw it described as a novel about people you don't actually want to know in real life, and that feels accurate. Humorous enough, and then halfway through there enters and entire subplot about a cat a reincarnation, and that's where I really lost the flow. But I finished it, so that has to mean something.
  • (3/5)
    I thought it was okay, a little slow going.
  • (1/5)
    it could have been funny (maybe)but I've lost interest in the 1%. The main characters were predictable, self centered and boring.
  • (5/5)

    2 people found this helpful

    Finally finished this after a brief but necessary hiatus, and it was wonderful. You need push the thought that this is a Wes Anderson film in the making right out of your head because there's really a lot more going on, and a lot of it is very lovely and funny, often at the same time. He has a way of getting to his characters by skating over them, then stopping and looking straight down with this simultaneously loving and unpitying eye. Every single inner child here is extremely needy, most likely because every single actual child was extremely neglected, and deWitt gives you the chance to care about that without sentimentalizing any of them. Agree with DG—the ending is marvelous. I will always have an eye peeled for Little Frank now, even if he was last seen in Paris. He's one of my favorite cat characters ever.

    2 people found this helpful

  • (2/5)
    FRENCH EXIT by Patrick DeWittI just couldn’t get interested in this book or the characters in it; Frances, a middle aged widow, and her son, Malcolm. While clearly drawn, neither was likeable or very interesting. Their situation (about to become bankrupt) and their reactions were also not interesting. I finished the book all the while wondering why I kept reading. I can’t in good conscience recommend this book.Frances is a snide, snobbish and selfish person. Malcolm is a man/child who has no ambition and no desire to do anything including attend to his long suffering fiancé. The entourage they acquire is made up of misfits and ne’er-do-wells. The conclusion is a relief.2 of 5 stars
  • (3/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    I enjoyed the author's book The Sisters Brothers so I expected to like this one as well. It fell flat for me. The protagonists were not especially likable, but I'm fine with that as long as they are entertaining. I expected quirkiness and humor. It was quirky. Not so much humor. There is a mother and her adult son who are running out of money, a not especially loved cat, and some misfits who managed to connect with them in Paris. Could have been good. Wasn't, though, in my opinion. As always, you may see it differently than I. A quote that sums the characterization for me: “Please don't cry. Your makeup's going to run – and there's so much of it.”

    1 person found this helpful

  • (3/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    The money is gone. However many millions. The houses and cars are about to be sold at auction. The locks have been changed. For Frances Price it’s decision time. She and her adult son, Malcolm, have been burning through all the worldly assets of her dead husband, Franklin. Good. She disliked him when he was alive and her opinion hasn’t improved now that he’s dead. Besides, their cat, Small Frank, keeps looking at her strangely and it’s a bit unsettling. But with characteristic decisiveness (or madness) Frances gathers what resources they have left and hops aboard an ocean liner (first class!) to leave Manhattan and take up residence in Paris in an empty apartment owned by her friend, Joan. And Malcolm’s coming too. Hijinks ensue.There is certainly a surfeit of wit and charm in this novel. But it is also pervaded by death. Not just Franklin’s death, but also death aboard cruise ships, death in parks, death in contemplation and planning. So, a bit dark, really. And it’s an open question whether the lightness of tone and the silliness of many of the characters can balance the gloom. If so, just.DeWitt has created a memorable character in Frances. And almost as unmemorable a character in her son, Malcolm. The cat has more personality. But the delightful Mrs Reynard, Julius the Private Detective, and Madeleine the mystic lend plenty of support. At times it looks to become a French farce, but there is always the harsh reality of life on the street that can be seen out the window. And it doesn’t look pretty. Unfortunately the novel just sort of drifts off at the end once Frances achieves her anticipated exit. It’s as though there just isn’t enough life left to keep the story going.So, I liked a lot of it, was amused and delighted with DeWitt’s mastery of diction and pace, but I can only offer a lukewarm recommendation. Very gently recommended.

    1 person found this helpful