Katherine Pancol is a big deal in France. She's written many bestselling novels, but unfortunately for the US, nothing's been translated to English until this fun, engaging novel popped up this month on the bookshelves at my store. There are people who call this chick lit, but I disagree. To me, chick lit is twenty-something women searching for love while experiencing growing pains in their lives, careers, and friends. The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles does focus on changing lives, but it involves both men and women in their 40's who wake up and realize that the life they chose doesn't work for them anymore. What to do about it? Josephine and Iris, two sisters living in Paris; both married with kids. Iris is rich, Josephine's husband hasn't worked in a year. Josephine's passion is 12th century French history; her part-time work as a researcher has become the only way her family is surviving. Add in one teen daughter who wants all the finer things in life and has complete disrespect for her mom, and Josephine has her hands full.
Josephine's life takes a turn when she kicks her husband out after finding out (and being the last to know) he's having an affair. Antoine flies the coop, and ends up in Kenya running a crocodile farm with his lover, leaving Josephine to raise Hortense and Zoe. Iris is rich and bored and doesn't know why her husband has become so distant. Is he having an affair? Iris makes matters worse when she blurts out at a dinner that she's writing a novel about….12th century France. A publisher is interested and won't let the idea go, so Iris talks Josephine into writing the novel. Iris will get all the credit, Josephine will get all the money.
And things go wrong from there. Josephine is a sweet woman who is slowly, very slowly, coming into her own as a strong, intelligent person capable of being successful on her own. Her story is the main push in this novel, and you'll come to love her, even when you're frustrated that she's not standing up for herself quickly enough. Iris is a pill and just keeps making her life more complicated because she can't keep her mouth shut. It's a fun, entertaining, afternoon read about women who are looking for a re-do in their lives. Who will be successful? What about their husbands? The cast of characters is chock full of quirky people who make the novel feel like you're reading about friends going through a bit of a sticky spot in their lives. And reading about French characters added something special to the mix, too. There were a few odd translation boo-boos, but nothing that will keep you from enjoying this novel.
Available in paperback and ebook.
Rating: 8/10 for a quirky, fun novel full of lively characters and life changing moments.