Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Secret Papers of Madame Olivetti-Annie Vanderbilt

The Secret Papers of Madame Olivetti
Annie Vanderbilt
NAL, Oct 2008, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451225276

Paul Crisp died suddenly when his heart stopped beating while driving his truck back after duck hunting to the family’s Idaho ranch. In the passenger seat, his son Pierre escaped the accident without major injuries. Paul’s wife of twenty-six years Lily is stunned, but tries to hide her despair from their other child eight year old Justine who keeps asking when is daddy coming home.

Two years later, Lily flees her home hoping for time alone to finally grieve. She travels to the southern French coast where she owns a home “Lily’s Lily Pond” she inherited from her late spouse. Her only planned companion is her Olivetti typewriter which she uses to write the story of her life with Paul, their children, and her French mother-in-law. However, the house is not vacant as a tenant Monsieur Dupree dwells there and a local repairman Yves Lebrun visits often.

THE SECRET PAPERS OF MADAME OLIVETTI is an engaging character driven tale that starts off slow until the key players (including Paul) are fully introduced but especially the star. The story line picks up speed after Lily goes passed her disappointing muses such as why she changed her surname from Fern to Crisp and her non-birthday trip to Rome. Soon as Yves offers much more than fixing a roof, surprising revelations surface that turn this into an entertaining look at delayed grieving.

Harriet Klausner

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