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July 2019



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The Red Notebook, Antoine Laurin

I was charmed by The President’s Hat, so I bought The Red Notebook when it was a cheap Kindle deal. It might just as well have been called Laure’s Handbag, as it’s also about finding a lost personal item, in this case a woman’s mauve handbag. The book begins with Laure being mugged on her doorstep and robbed of her bag. Not the sort of charm I was hoping for! Left without keys or money she seeks refuge at an hotel but by next morning the bang on the head she got from the mugger has taken effect and she’s carted off to hospital in a coma.

Laurent owns a bookshop called Le Cahier Rouge. He has an ex-wife and a precocious daughter called Chloe. On his walk to work he finds the mauve bag dumped on top of a rubbish bin and tries to hand it in at a police station. Finding that this will take hours of French bureaucracy, he eventually takes the bag home and goes through it. He knows perfectly well that this is odd as he’s never even looked in his wife’s bag, but he feels compelled to do it. In the bag is a red Moleskine notebook containing Laure’s thoughts, which obviously no one else is meant to read. All he learns from the bag is a Christian name and he starts to follow every possible clue to the bag’s owner, beginning with a dry cleaning ticket.

As his investigations continue, they do start to seem creepily close to stalking but we already think he’s quite a nice bloke and his daughter is around to keep things normal and in the end to ….no spoiler! This is a fairy tale, really; The Sleeping Beauty, perhaps. I enjoyed it very much and wished it were longer.