The List of My Desires by Gregoire Delacourt

This sweet and sad novel has been one of the top ten bestselling books in France since its publication in February 2012, and really, this makes perfect sense, for here is a confidently told story about possibilities. Jocelyne is 47 years old. Her children have left home and she runs a dressmaking shop as well as a related sewing blog. She is ordinary in the sense that we all are ordinary: she dreams a little and wants a little, but overall she loves her life. As for us all, it could be better. Or could it?

Jocelyne wins the EuroMillions lottery, 18 million euros to be exact, but does not tell anyone. She needs time to examine the possibilities, to make a list of what she really wants. She thinks about being happy, and what that means. Will purchasing a new television for her husband make his life better? As she deliberates, she draws up a list of desires and contemplates the true meaning of worth. Gradually, her blog takes off and she becomes famous, her shop a popular destination. Still, she tells no one of her win.

Exquisitely written, this story at times reads like a modern fable in disguise. It does seem like there is a lesson to be learnt. Will money make you happier? Will giving the money away make Jocelyne richer in soul? Thankfully, the ending has an acidic twist that takes the novel away from being too sugar-coated, landing it smack-bang in dark reality. So French, one could argue … or simply so real it hurts. A treat to read.

Chris Gordon