Diane lives in Paris. She smokes cigarettes, drinks wine, and doesn't leave her apartment. Her husband and young daughter were killed in a car accident the year before, and since then she has been incapable of doing anything. Her literary cafe, Happy People Read and Drink Coffee is suffering in her absence and under the terrible management of her best friend, Felix. She is simply not functioning at all and pretty much lives in her pajamas. Life has no meaning to her and she simply doesn't care.
Felix's announcement that they are going to take a trip somewhere, anywhere to help reset her life spurs Diane into deciding that she will take a trip, but not with Felix. His idea of a trip involves lots of parties, drinking, and people. Diane settles on Ireland, and a small town where nothing happens. Her husband had wanted to go to Ireland, and so that's where she will move for the next few months. To be alone, to mourn, and to try and move out of her grief. She packs her possessions, says goodbye to her apartment and life in Paris, and flies to Ireland.
In Ireland, Diane settles into a small cottage near the beach. There's another cottage right next door, and an incredibly grumpy and unfriendly photographer lives there. Edward is pretty pissed there's a neighbor. Like Diane, he wants nothing to do with anyone else. The two of them dislike each other the first time they meet. Edward has no idea why Diane is there, and she's not willing to share her story with anyone. She truly is in the depths of the worst grief that I've ever read about or experienced. This is a woman who will sit in a chair and stare out the window for hours. She smokes like a chimney and barely eats.
Slowly, Diane and Edward work towards a friendship. That is the bulk of this novel. It may not seem like much happens, but so much does! It's not an action-packed story, but emotionally it is so full. Your heart just aches for Diane, but at the same time you just want to shake her. And in the end, she makes a decision that just kills you, but you know it's the best one she can make.
Good news, though. There is a sequel coming out next year. It's already out in French, but the U.S. version Don't Worry, Life is Easy isn't slated to be published until 2017. I will be first in line to read it. This was a short novel, but really touched me and is one of my top reads so far for 2016. I guess because grief has been a constant companion in my life for the past 4 years that it hit home: we all grieve in different ways, and there is no time limit on it. But there comes a time where you have to start living and stop feeling guilty and regretful. The best thing you can do is live a happy, full life in memory of those you've lost.
Available in hardcover and e-book.
Rating: 8/10 for a book that has just a few characters and is simply told, but is unforgettable. You will not soon forget Diane and Edward.