Thursday, 6 April 2017

These Dividing Walls - Fran Cooper


 I felt quite at home in Paris reading this book. It has a familiar ring - a large city, trouble brewing in a hot Summer, and the residents of a apartment block, which at one time was a whole house or two. I got to know several of the people who live there, some better than others and some not really at all. Into this building comes Edward, a young Englishman who has taken the offer of the use of a friend's flat for a while, after suffering the devastating loss of his beloved sister in a traffic accident. I think it is fair to say that when people live in blocks of flats or apartments, they get to guess things about their neighbours, but don't necessarily get to know them. There's a family with three children under five, the mother washed out and on the verge of a breakdown. There's a couple in love and married for 30 years but she doesn't know that he no longer has a job to go to and leaves the house every morning to go across Paris and sit in a cheap cafe reading the paper all day. Then, a newly married Muslim couple buy one of the apartments, and move in...... It's a really hot Summer in Paris, tempers are frayed, things go wrong, and in the middle of it all the man without the job has a conversation with a new "friend".
The tension can be felt, just there, under the surface. What is going to happen? Someone is going to get hurt, aren't they? I found myself worrying about Edward;  the wife with the children, and the man without a job, and the rough sleeper across the road - and the others too. I dislike the mob mentality that large groups wear, I just see no way to stop them. Perhaps something that hot Paris Summer will change things for everyone concerned.
The author is English, but spent three years in Paris, and she certainly gives you a feel for it. I liked her style a lot - just a story about people, but the mounting tension made it a page turner for me. I recommend this and look forward to more by Fran Cooper.

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