Sunday, March 31, 2013



Pages: 232
Date: 31/03/2013
Grade: 4+
Details: Received from Roman 
            Books through Nudge

Juliet’s life in England is collapsing around her ears. Sexually harassed at work and with her long term relationship with James being well past its best before date, her fear of dust and cleaning obsession are getting worse. In need of a break and encouraged by a friend she goes on a two week holiday to France where she meets Antoine. From the moment she meets him there is an attraction between Juliet and Antoine. But he is a man who works with horses, an environment that brings out Juliet’s deepest fears about dust and having to be in contact with it. And although Juliet and Antoine are getting closer there is another woman in his life. Veronique is older than Antoine and according to him they “only” have a discussion relationship, Juliet can’t decipher exactly what it is that binds the two of them together.

When Juliet goes back to England she knows she will have to leave James, who turns out to almost welcome that idea. After a few weeks of living on her own, Juliet decides to return to France and Antoine. Unable to stop thinking about him she would rather be with the man she has fallen in love with, despite any uncertainties about his intentions and his attachment to Veronique, than stay on her own in England.

But life in France isn’t easy. Antoine and Juliet move into the tiny cabin he owns together with Veronique. And although Veronique moves out she is never far away from Juliet’s life; phone calls, unexpected visits to the cabin and long and unexplained absences from Antoine fuel Juliet’s insecurities. At the same time, continued exposure to Antoine’s horses exposes her to a new passion. As time moves on and the situation, despite appearances, remains more or less unchanged it is Juliet’s quest to permanently bind Antoine to her that will lead her to new found independence and confidence.

This book is beautiful. I don’t just mean the writing and the story, but also the physical book. It has an attractive cover and a beautiful lay-out on the inside.

The language in this book is sparse. The story is told not in long narratives but more in short sketches. Not a lot of detail is revealed; descriptions are short and to the point, yet clear, and feelings are noted rather than delved into. Yet, while the story appears at first glance to just skim the surface, there is a lot of depth to it once you let the words sink in. There is as much significance in what is not said as in what is mentioned. Juliet’s moods can be judged by the amount of cleaning she needs to do, her progress by her ever increasing confidence with, and love of the horses. Because the story is only told by Juliet, and because she seems to only reluctantly share information, it is up to the reader to draw their own conclusions about the characters in this book. There are hints about what it is that binds Antoine to Veronique but no full explanation; we are given glimpses of Juliet’s thoughts and feelings but they are never spelled out for us; Veronique remains an enigma all through the story.

Because the book was written as if from a distance, as if the narrator wasn’t personally involved in what is happening - even though the story is told by Juliet - I never got really invested into what was happening to her. This lack of interest was increased by the fact that as far as I could see, Juliet was setting herself up for failure; in her job, with John and with Antoine she seemed to put herself in situations where a good ending just wasn’t on the cards.

This is a book that demands work from the reader. They will have to think about what they are reading and try to draw their own conclusions when it comes to the motivation behind the characters’ actions or lack thereof. At times I found this frustrating; found myself wanting and needing more information. On the whole however I enjoyed not having everything spelled out for me.

I liked the story, and found it an easy read. However, the book was also easy to put down because I never got caught up in the story enough. Having said that, there were times when the descriptions in this book took my breath away, like the moment when the title’s meaning is explained:

“This kiss is smooth; a cappuccino kiss”

At times almost poetic, this is a sensitive and thought provoking book that asks the reader to read beyond the words.

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