The thing about chick-lit is, sometimes it’s trashy. And sometimes you don’t respect yourself in the morning for having devoted umpteen hours to find out if Joséphine will really get together with Philippe, and if so, how they will get past the problem of the nasty Iris, Joséphine’s sister and Philippe’s husband. And then, you realize not only that Philippe isn’t really that interesting, but also that you have just read 744 pages in a foreign language and maybe it was a waste of time.
So that’s where I am with Katherine Pancol’s La Valse lente des tortues. I greatly enjoyed the first book of this trilogy, Les Yeux jaunes des crocodiles. Maybe it was just the novelty of reading popular fiction in French, but I am a perennial sucker for the Cinderella story which we got complete with wicked sister in that volume. But in La valse lente… Pancol seems to feel obliged to up the ante. Thus she includes not only a witchcraft subplot but, most jarring, adds a serial murderer to her cast. Now, I know I tend toward rigidity but I do prefer to keep my genre fiction separate. With chick-lit you want some level of naturalism so that you can imagine yourself in the shoes of the heroine. (Which shoes, in this case, are pounding Parisian pavements, hence the fun.) With serial murders, you want someone highly intelligent in charge and maybe you want some sinister atmosphere and you certainly do not want tortoises mixed into the dénouement. But here they are.
Pancol’s next novel in the series is called Les Écureils de Central Park sont tristes le lundi or, believe it or not, The Squirrels in Central Park Are Sad on Mondays. A quick perusal of the French Amazon reviews included the line, “Il y a trop de blabla …” or “There is too much blah blah.” Enough said.