The Little French Bistro by Nina George, Crown, New York 2017 translated by Simon Pare
I came away from reading this book with the taste of magical realism in my mouth. I don’t know if it would fall into an academically decided category of this nature but it surely hints at it for me.
A 60-year-old woman on holiday with her husband despairs of her marriage and determines to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge in Paris.
She is rescued by a homeless man who she thinks is Death.
She steals a small painted tile from a nursing station and walks out unnoticed to find the locale of the scene portrayed that includes a small boat with the name Mariann, her name but missing the ’e’.
She is told how to read the land and the sea by a young nun in a graveyard.
She is led to shelter by a cat.
I don’t want to spoil the almost mythical rhythm of the story by describing how she comes to the term ‘sea whisperer’. I will say the engaging descriptive nature of the writing draws the reader into the very personal reality of Marianne. This is a world we are familiar with, but with a different vibratory thread running through it. It is a wonder to share with her the journey from drowning in the tragic to living in the magic “at the end of the world.” Definitely want to read Nina George’s earlier works.