‘Bernard’ by David Foenkinos is a slim French novel. In fact, fooled by the unorthodox format, I’m not sure it can even be called a novel. A novella, then.
The story begins with Bernard returning to live with his parents after he splits up with his wife. At the age of fifty he finds himself in his childhood bedroom, falling in with his parents’ rules. We find out how he ended up there: He had an affair. His wife threw him out.
He realises that he’s gradually losing contact with his daughter. He tries to reconnect with her through facebook, a rather creepy episode that doesn’t show him as a sympathetic character, although that was perhaps the author’s intention.
Living with his parents is difficult. They treat him like he’s still a teenager. Then they try to set him up with a divorcee.
‘Bernard’ is a pleasant and easy read, although I didn’t feel much empathy with any of the characters. There was a certain lightness about the story, as if it wasn’t taking itself that seriously. Plenty of humour in there that had me chuckling, especially as he reverts to the behaviour of his teenage self.
Bernard, although only concerned with himself, manages to shake up his parents’ lives too and causes them to make changes themselves that are well overdue.
Find out more about David Foenkinos here.