An Appreciation of Life's Small Pleasures
Email this review


Another attempt to jump on the bandwagon of the so-called simplicity movement, this time with a Gallic twist. This is French bestseller Delerm’s first book to be published in the US, and at first glance it would seem to fit quite comfortably among the hordes of books currently exhorting Americans to slow down and enjoy the mundane joys of life. Unfortunately, the author tends to wring the pleasure from most of the simple things he recommends for appreciation. The book, which consists of 34 short chapters (none more than three pages long), extols the virtues of, for instance, blackberry picking, going to the movies, and looking through a kaleidoscope, and it’s quite possible that readers will go and perform the activities Delerm describes, if only to escape his precious and overwrought prose. His rhapsody on an autumn sweater could double as an entry in the J. Peterman catalog: “Time for a new sweater. Time to dress in autumn tones: sweet chestnut, brushwood, conker husk, russula pink. Time to wear the season on your woollen sleeve. To celebrate the blaze before it burns itself out.” Though its armchair philosophy is tiresome, the book is somewhat attractive as armchair travel, since a number of the pleasures that Delerm endorses are specifically French, such as the moving walkway in the Montparnasse metro station or the best way to play pÇtanque. And his descriptions of food and drink, which uphold France’s position as a nation of gourmands, will delight foodies—especially the chapter on “A Sunday Morning Box of Pastries,” which puts American delicacies like Krispy Kremes to shame. Well intentioned, but remarkably tedious for such a short book.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-20364-0
Page count: 124pp
Publisher: Picador
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1999