Par les routes [Sylvain Prudhomme, 2019]

I haven’t been at all productive on the reading front, despite my to-read list that keeps growing. In the past few months, I have started some books which I couldn’t finish, mostly because I lost interest, so I fell into a reading rut.

Before the holidays, though, my boss-now-friend lent me a book that she’d just finished. A French book. In French. It is well written, it is fluid and the French is quite easy to understand and read through, she told me – which, I must admit, enters well into my criteria for starting a French book. Even though I am increasingly fluent in French, reading and writing are sometimes still challenging for me, and when I want to relax, it’s not reading in French that comes to mind first.

Anyway, Par les routes is a lovely book and it is lovely to read. I found the narrator’s voice easy to find and I was able to enter the story without worrying too much about vocabulary. It is about two friends: the narrator, a writer who moves away from Paris to the countryside to find some focus in his work, and the autostoppeur – a hitchhiker, who lives up to his title so seriously that it is actually the theme of his life.

Throughout the story, the characters come to terms with what is essential to them, as told by the narrator while he lives and dwells on the events that he faces. It is a story about distinct ways of living life, of bringing people together, of friendship and what it means to love.

In the hitchhiker’s trips, it was really curious to read about some funnily named places in France, which made me want to know this neighbouring country a little better.

It made me feel good to read this book, at this moment in life.

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