French Rhapsody – Antoine Laurain




Middle-aged doctor Alain Massoulier has received a life-changing letter—thirty-three years too late.

Lost in the Paris postal system for decades, the letter from Polydor, dated 1983, offers a recording contract to The Holograms, in which Alain played lead guitar. Back then The Holograms had believed in their cutting-edge sound. However, the music industry remained indifferent, and eventually the band split up, each going their own way.

Alain is overcome by nostalgia, and is tempted to track down the members of the group. But in a world where everything and everyone has changed . . . where will his quest take him?


I’m not sure exactly why, but I loved this book. It’s an effortless read and very entertaining.

Alain Massoulier is a middle-aged doctor who leads a comfortable, if perhaps predictable, life in Paris.

Out of the blue he receives a potentially life-changing letter that had been posted 33 years earlier and had languished in the French postal system all these years. In 1983 he had been a member of a band The Holograms and the letter was from Polydor offering them a recording contract – 33 years too late as having failed to make a name for themselves as a band, they all went their separate ways.

Alain is thrown by this letter and becomes quite nostalgic, searching the house for a box of band photos and a cassette recording, desperately wanting to listen to a particular track that had been playing in his head since the letter’s arrival.

As he reminisces we learn how the five band members from very diverse backgrounds got together to form the band. The more he thinks of the past and the letter, the more he experiences feelings of fury and injustice. He has thoughts of what might have been. I liked the lines in the book, “You think you have buried your youthful dreams, that they’ve dissolved in the fog of passing years and then you realise it’s not true! The corpse is still there, terrifying and unburied.” He decides to search for his former bandmates and try to make contact to tell them what has transpired. He is also hoping that one of them will have a copy of “Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On”, the track that had impressed the record company.

I was never in a band, I’m not a doctor, I’m not even in my 50s (I’m older than that) but somehow I could connect with the story – maybe it’s wondering what might have been if another path had been taken? The book is funny, nostalgic, charming and at there’s a bit of satire in there too. It’s well written and has some great characters.

The characters are all very diverse. Some have made a name for themselves in the 33 years that have passed. They are all interesting and well drawn. I love how the present and the past are interwoven almost seamlessly. Oh yes, and there are a couple of nice twists in the story.

The book was translated from the French by Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce. Publication date is 11 October 2016 but it is available now from Gallic Books

(My thanks to NetGalley and Gallic Books for providing me with a review copy)

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