Blurb (as on Goodreads):
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 Prices’ 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, a doctor who makes house calls with his wine merchant in tow, and the inimitable Mme. Reynard, aggressive houseguest and dementedly friendly American expat.
Brimming with pathos and wit, French Exit is a one-of-a-kind ‘tragedy of manners,’ a riotous send-up of high society, as well as a moving mother/son caper which only Patrick deWitt could conceive and execute.
‘French Exit’ is all about crazy escapades. Frances Price lives with her stepson Malcolm and her cat, who apparently holds her dead husband’s soul. Frances and Malcolm are used to having money. They can’t imagine a life that constitutes of not spending any money. When Frances losses all her husband’s money (due to bankruptcy), she and her stepson liquidate their assets and head towards Paris.
What awaits in Paris are a bunch of characters who could take crazy to a whole new level.
French Exit needs a little getting used to, especially the writing style. The author explores humor among tragic circumstances and his characters support the idea. Full of sarcasm, dry humor, and strange theories, this plot will need your undivided attention.
The mother-son duo slowly unravels through the plot, and each character gives a different angle to the story. It is extremely difficult to anticipate what’s coming. A comedy of manners that will certainly challenge your sense of wit and your ability to handle grave situations in a very lighthearted manner. The writing style makes it extremely easy to judge the characters, but there is more to the story than some shallow.
However, the purpose of the story and the characters are unclear. Full of charming, funny and distinct characters, ‘French Exit’ requires a particular type of audience, and I realized I wasn’t one of them. But if you are looking for a quirky book, this might just be for you.