“It is difficult to recover from an unhappy childhood, but to recover from a sheltered childhood may be impossible.” It is difficult at times to tell if French is a novel or an autobiography. The main character and narrator has the author’s name. Frederic claims he has no recall of his childhood until he is thrown into jail and later into prison for snorting cocaine off the hood of a car out side a Parisian nightclub. It is in the confines of lockup with nothing to do that his memories gradually return to him. Not only his memories but the stories he has heard of his grandparents and great grandparent reaching back to both world wars. He complains bitterly about the confinement, “I’m just a privileged child deprived of his comforts as punishment for his overgrown rich-kid self-indulgence… Do not dismiss my suffering; comfort has been the great struggle of the French ever since the Liberation.” and especially the squalor of the prison, “in THE COUNTRY THAT GAVE BIRTH TO HUMAN RIGHTS.”
Novel is quite funny in places. It is a provacative look at the French and their culture through the sixties and seventies. Well worth the read.