Its 1 am and I’ve just stayed up late to finish this fantastic crime/mystery book. As I said, I recently joined the Armchair Murder Book Club at Waterstones‘, which meets every first Wednesday of the month. You can imagine my panic on Tuesday night when I realised that the meeting was the following evening and I haven’t even started the damned book yet. Nonetheless, I decided to make a start so I could at least have something to contribute to the conversation. At the last meeting, some people didn’t finish and it didn’t really make that much of a difference because there wasn’t really a big reveal to spoil. I honestly thought the case would be the same for this book.
This book had one of the best plot twists I’ve ever read in my life. I don’t know if its because I haven’t read a good mystery book lately, but this one just blew. my. mind.
To my everlasting regret, I unfortunately learned of the plot twist during the meeting when I was still 30% into the book, but my mind was still blown. I was speechless for a good 2 minutes, which for me is a long time. I could not wrap my head around it.
Three women lived in a village. One was eighty year old living in a mill overlooking the river. The second was a pretty school teacher trapped in a loveless marriage. The third was a child progeny with the gift of painting. All three were trapped in the picturesque village of Giverny, famous for being the inspiration for Monet’s paintings. All three longed for escape.
Three women lived in a village. “The first one was mean, the second a liar, the third and egotist”. For thirteen days, the gates of Giverny were open for a possible escape but only one would make it out. The third woman was the most intelligent, the second one was the most cunning, the first woman was the most determined.
This is a riddle solved against the background of the brutal murder of a prominent businessman who had a passion for Monet and an even greater passion for women.
Things are not what they seem.
I am not going to give away any plot twists. Suffice it to say that during our book club meeting, one of the other readers pointed out that in the hands of a less brave author, this book would have been written very differently. It takes courage and talent to have written it the way it was written; the plot was tight and there were no glaring holes that would make you say “but what about the time when…?” when the big reveal was finally unveiled.
The story generated a lot of discussion during the book club, even from me and I didn’t even finish the damn thing. I was kicking myself for the entire hour and a half for not finishing this book. Ultimately though, I can’t really say that my reading experience was less satisfactory because of the fact that I’ve already been spoiled. I read it with the understanding and perspective of someone who already knew what was coming so I could look at certain plot lines and see exactly how the author cleverly placed red herrings deliberately designed to mislead us, but actually the clues to the real story were there all along.
This book is ultimately about the chances you take and the tragedy of a life that is not fully lived. I can’t really say much without unintentionally spoiling it for everyone. However, as tragic as the circumstances may seem, I find upon finishing it that there was no other way for the story to have ended and that things happened exactly as they were meant to. All the victims were victims of their own actions or inaction; one of my fellow book club members pointed out that it was hard for her to sympathise with any of the characters, and I agree. The characters will annoy you to the point of wanting to give up on the book, but DO NOT GIVE UP ON THE BOOK because the payoff is worth it.
The writing was very fluid. I tend to be biased against books that have been translated from a different language, especially French, because sometimes the translation is too stiff and something inevitably gets lost in translation. However, this was so well done that I forgot that this book wasn’t originally written in English. The prose was seamless and easy to follow. Michel Bussi was very descriptive (almost too descriptive) that it really created a nice atmosphere for the story to unfold. I now want to visit the town of Giverny and see Monet’s pond for myself.
Armchair Murder Book Club
Kudos to the book club moderators at Waterstones’ for the awesome choice of books. I can’t wait for the next one. Readers in London, if you’re interested in joining like-minded individuals geeking out over books, check out the Waterstones website for events at the store nearest you. Usually, the book clubs are at the flagship store in Piccadilly, my happy place, 5 floors of bookworm heaven. There’s free wine involved if you want to check it out. Our next book is The Collin Case by Ferdinand Von Schirack.
Good night and good morning bookworms!