Title: And Then Came Paulette
Author: Barbara Constantine
Published: MacLehose Press June 2015
Status: Read from June 06 to 08, 2015 — I own a copy
Ferdinand, a widower (whose wife was by all accounts an unpleasant woman) lives alone a rambling French farmhouse, with only a cat for company since his son and his family moved in to town. Bored and lonely, he spends his days at a small cafe, surreptitiously tripping young woman with his cane, while hoping to spend a few minutes with his beloved grandsons on their way home from school.
Ferdinand is on his way home one evening when he discovers his neighbour, Marceline has become overwhelmed by a gas leak. Concerned that she tried to end her life he vows to keep an eye on her and when he discovers her home is barely habitable, he insists she, along with her cheeky donkey Cornelius, cat Mo-je and dog Berthe, stay with him while repairs are carried out. Just a few weeks later the pair is joined by an old friend of Ferdinand’s, followed by a pair of elderly sisters-in-laws, a trainee nurse and an agricultural student. Ferdinand’s farmhouse is suddenly bursting at the seams. And then comes Paulette.
And Then Came Paulette is a charming story about family, friendship and community, wherein a collection of lost and lonely souls in need find refuge with one another. There is humour, tenderness and joy, despite the individual sorrows that unites these characters as together they rediscover a sense of purpose, usefulness and comfort.
The characters have their own stories and quirks, from newly widowed guy to ninety five year old Hortense. Ferdinand also has his family to worry about when it seems likely his son is heading for a divorce. The identity of Paulette comes as quite a surprise, one I’m not willing to spoil.
Translated from the author’s native French, And Then Came Paulette is a quick, uplifting read. I must admit the ending feels very abrupt and the story unfinished as a result, but I did enjoy it.
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