The French Impressionist - Rebecca Bischoff

June 1, 2018

5/5 stars


Exploring communication disorders, not to mention lies, deceit and desperate measures.

I really enjoyed this. Being set in Nice (France), I was expecting sunshine and happiness all around, but actually, the heart of this book is surprisingly dark, intricate and thought-provoking.

Rosemary is 15 and for the first time in her life, she's escaped her mother's control. She's fled to Nice, where she lives with Sylvie and Emile - a kindly couple who think she's there to do an art course. Why? Because Rosemary lied. Turns out, this is a bit of a habit for this young lady, who will go to great lengths to ensure that she stays free. 



Of course, things start going wrong when the web of lies she's created start to fray at the edges. An old woman in the flat next door accuses her of stealing. An American lad on holiday won't stop pestering her. Her best friend is disillusioned by her. And worst (or perhaps best) of all, her mother and step-father are hot on her heels. 

The thing I loved most about this book was the examination of a girl with a communication disorder. Every time I see an under-represented character included in a book I want to cheer. Hurrah! This book provided such fascinating insight into how torturous it must be at times to not be able to get the right words out, and also the damaging effects of past trauma. 

I loved the ambiguity of it all too. Yes, Rosemary behaves appallingly at times, but throughout, her behaviour is often justifiable or at least understandable. There's one terrible thing she nearly does at the end, but thankfully she doesn't go through with it. And her self-awareness makes her actions far more relateable. 

I also loved the twist with the mother - and how the author makes us finally see it through her eyes. Clever indeed.

Overall, I totally enjoyed this book and I'm clearly not the target audience as an adult rather than a YA or teen. Impressive!

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