SEEN/UNSEEN, SAID/UNSAID & IL FAUT UN VILLAGE
Dominique Pfaff and my wife met through a women’s group affiliated with a nearby Catholic Parish. Dominique’s returned to her native France to retire now, but she leaves behind pleasant memories of her time here and a couple of novels–All That Is Seen and Unseen and How To Find Happiness In Under Three Weeks, both of which anyone with a computer can purchase for inexpensively on Amazon. I’ve read only the first, nearly completed the second, and I can testify they’re worth the price.
All That Is has a strong story. Two women–work colleagues–set out on a cross-country journey from CA to NC to visit an ailing former boss. One of the women had a near-affair–lots of close calls–with her twice-her-age-and-married supervisor. The other is a good-hearted maternal type who liked the guy and us up for an adventure. Along the way, they unpack for us the entire backstory, plus a lot more.
The time is the 2008 campaign season, but the events take us back to Katrina, thus giving the story a real-world context and something to reflect against. The tale is of corporate intrigue focused on the IT department of a CA Central Valley community college Pfaff calls Los Pequenos. (A significant name, I thought. See what you think.) There are multi-million dollar contracts and careers at stake, and our principals are pawns in a game being played way outside their spheres of influence. Also at stake are the hearts and souls–souls, really. The title is a gospel quote in case you missed it, but it’s by n o means a religious tract.–of a number of people we come to truly care about.
I will say the book could use considerable weeding and wished it had more focus so I could focus my emotions. Nevertheless, All That Is Seen and Unseen does an admirable job of exploring the depths of emotions of several truly fascinating lives. It’s a considerable accomplishment.
How To Find Happiness is set in France and the US smack dab in the middle of 9/11. Franny speaks French and so becomes the chosen planner/negotiator for her friend’s wedding in Provence. She goes early, makes it. Her friends are stuck in the U.S. with all flights frozen and having second thoughts about “abandoning” their country at such a time.
Franny spends a lot of time roaming the countryside, making friends, suffering minor crises, etc., and her adventures are altogether involving. If there was a too much French for my taste, that’s just my taste. Buy, it, try it, like it.