Your second life begins when you realize you only have one by Raphaëlle Giordano
Aspiring writers and readers alike will wish they wrote this delightful self-help book with a difference. Not only has this already charmed more than two million readers worldwide; but it also promises to join the elite list of life-changing novels like Eat, Pray, Love with which it has been favourably compared.
Frankly, in my mind at least, it is better than the former whose narrator annoyed me with her self-obsession and histrionics. Au contraire – as the French would say – for this is first and foremost a novel brim-full of Gallic charm. Your second life… is sure to also become a box office hit.
Readers will be both edified and entertained as they follow the metamorphosis of the book’s narrator Camille after a chance encounter forces her to tackle her humdrum existence head on.
While many of us would swap even an ordinary French life for our own, Parisian Camille is overwhelmed with her mundane existence. Her marriage to Sebastien seems tepid; her relationship with her son Adrien is combative. Even her work life is toxic.
As fate would have it, just when she suspected that everything wrong with her life could not get worse, Camille’s Satnav fails on a wet and wintry night and she breaks down on a country backroad. With nothing to lose she knocks on the door of an elegant building to ask for assistance, and is welcomed inside by a charming stranger.
Handsome Claude is a routinologist whose unorthodox methodology for radical change is happily accepted by Camille - much to the horror of hapless Sebastien who is mystified by the sudden metamorphosis of his wife into a familiar stranger. Claude offers a world of change where nothing is impossible. Along the way, the reader is invited to see how his advice for Camille could also be a catalyst for change in our own.
But just as a Camille’s future life starts to look more satisfying than her wildest dreams, she begins to wonder if she will have to lose all that she loved in order to achieve it.
Be charmed; be changed. After all, your second life only begins when you realise you only have one...
Reviewer: Peta Stavelli
Penguin Random House RRP $37.00