Delicacy, By David Foenkinos


Emma Hagestadt
Friday 09 December 2011 01:00 GMT

Natalie first meets her future husband, François, on a street in Paris. A total stranger, he stops her in her tracks and asks her out for coffee. She agrees. So kicks off this delightfully improbable histoire d'amour. But before things get too blissful, François is knocked over and killed while out on a Sunday morning jog.

Years later, and still mad with grief, Natalie kisses Markus, a colleague at work. It is a moment of madness, but Markus - Swedish, geeky and unassuming - falls hopelessly in love. What he doesn't know is that Natalie's boss, Charles, is equally smitten.

Lists and notes, in Nick Hornby or Alain de Botton style, punctuate the narrative. "Delicate" is probably the mot juste for this ineffably Gallic romance, which is translated with panache by Bruce Benderson.

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