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French Exit
Cover of French Exit
French Exit
A Novel

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.

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.

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • 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.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 4, 2018
    In this entertaining novel (subtitled a “tragedy of manners”) that lampoons the one percent, deWitt (The Sisters Brothers) follows the financial misfortune of wealthy widow Frances Price, a magnetic and caustic 60-something New Yorker who has spent most of the fortune her late lawyer husband amassed defending the indefensible. Insolvency comes as a shock to Frances despite repeated warnings her financial adviser about her extravagant lifestyle. She reluctantly accepts an offer to occupy a friend’s Parisian flat and sets sail with her rakish, lovesick son, Malcolm; her house cat, Small Frank; and her last €170,000. On board, she concocts a secret plan to spend every penny, while Malcolm befriends a medium who can see the dying (they’re green). In Paris, the book finds its surest footing, as Small Frank flees and a lonely neighbor connects Frances to a doctor, his wine merchant, and a private eye, who locates the medium to contact the cat, who may hold some secrets. The love of Malcolm’s life and her dim-witted fiancé also arrive, as does the owner of the now extremely crowded flat. DeWitt’s novel is full of vibrant characters taking good-natured jabs at cultural tropes; readers will be delighted.

  • AudioFile Magazine Lorna Raver is giving a master class in vocal technique in this audiobook, in which an eccentric mother and son who have spent all their money but feel entitled to continue to live like the .01 percent abscond to Paris. Raver's French accent is excellent, a bonus, but the really dazzling work is in her distinguishing between two elderly, equally harebrained American widows of the same age, which she can manage in two words, then her silky downshift to the voice of a female American clairvoyant 30 years younger, again making age and class clear two words in. How? The book itself may strike some as a diverting fantasy about drunk, crazy rich people. Or it may simply seem unbearably twee. Raver at least is first-rate. B.G. � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine
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French Exit
A Novel
Patrick deWitt
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