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“Do you know what a cliche is?” asks the wry heroine of French Exit. “It’s a story so fine and thrilling that it’s grown old in its hopeful retelling.” What a perfect description of Patrick deWitt’s latest novel, which follows the self-destructive journey of said heroine––the endearingly morbid Frances Price––after she learns of her impending bankruptcy. As in his Booker-shortlisted western The Sisters Brothers, deWitt reworks a classic genre––here the comedy of manners––in ways both familiar and singular. Yet for all his playfulness, deWitt also ponders how we fail those we love (our spouses and friends, our children and parents) and how we might do better. Reading French Exit made me feel not unlike Frances after one of her many benders––giddy, but with a persistent ache. The only difference is deWitt spares your head and goes straight for your heart.— From Sam
“Quirky, wry, darkly witty, strange, and absolutely laugh-out-loud hilarious, Patrick deWitt’s French Exit is the perfect remedy for those seeking a respite from the plethora of WWII historical fiction and genre thrillers out there. In deWitt’s depiction of dysfunctional families at their absolute oddest, Malcom Price, his doting mother, Frances, and their cat, Little Frank, abandon New York City practically penniless and scurry off to Paris, where things only get stranger. Every page turned leaves the reader wondering what in the world they will do next. What a breath of fresh air is French Exit! Keep them coming, Patrick deWitt!”
— Angie Tally, Country Bookshop, ,
“This comedy of manners entertains with appalling characters who become more and more endearing in spite of themselves. While there are laugh-out-loud lines and situations, there are also very sad undercurrents as we learn more backstory. This is a tale of high society, cruelty, shallowness, love, despair, humor, and a hint of the supernatural. Oh, and a very unusual cat.”
— Katharine Wright, Charlie's Corner, San Francisco, CA
A Recommended Book of the Season from
Vanity Fair * Entertainment Weekly * Vulture * The Millions * Publishers Weekly * Esquire
From bestselling author Patrick deWitt, a brilliant and darkly comic novel about a wealthy widow and her adult son who flee New York for Paris in the wake of scandal and financial disintegration.
Frances Price – tart widow, possessive mother, and Upper East Side force of nature – is in dire straits, beset by scandal and impending bankruptcy. Her adult son Malcolm is no help, mired in a permanent state of arrested development. And then there’s the Price’s aging cat, Small Frank, who Frances believes houses the spirit of her late husband, an infamously immoral litigator and world-class cad whose gruesome tabloid death rendered Frances and Malcolm social outcasts.
Putting penury and pariahdom behind them, the family decides to cut their losses and head for the exit. One ocean voyage later, the curious trio land in their beloved Paris, the City of Light serving as a backdrop not for love or romance, but self destruction and economical ruin – to riotous effect. A number of singular characters serve to round out the cast: a bashful private investigator, an aimless psychic proposing a seance, and a doctor who makes house calls with his wine merchant in tow, to name a few.
Brimming with pathos, French Exit is a one-of-a-kind 'tragedy of manners,' a send-up of high society, as well as a moving mother/son caper which only Patrick deWitt could conceive and execute.
Patrick deWitt is the author of the critically acclaimed Ablutions: Notes for a Novel, as well as the novels Undermajordomo Minor and The Sisters Brothers, which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Born in British Columbia, Canada, he has also lived in California and Washington, and now resides in Portland, Oregon.