Wednesday, 8 August 2018

We Only Saw Happiness by Gregoire Delacourt + #Giveaway

We Only Saw Happiness by Gregoire Delacourt
First published in French as On ne voyait que le bonheur in France by Editions Jean-Claude Lattes in 2014. English language translation by Anthea Bell published by Weidenfeld And Nicolson in 2016.

One of my August Authorfest reads

How I got this book:
Won in a publisher giveaway

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository (unavailable)

There is nothing like the love of a parent for a child. But what happens when that love falters?

Deprived of his parents' love as a child, Antoine is determined to give his son and daughter the perfect childhood he never had. He is a dreamer, an optimist, a man who fell in love at first sight and who believes that he has found the secret to living a happy life.

But when tragedy strikes he becomes someone even he does not recognise. Taken to his lowest point, he performs an act of desperation. But can he find a way back? And what does happiness actually mean?

Provocative, unpredictable, heartbreaking and heartwarming, We Only Saw Happiness is a story about families, the choices we make, and the people we become.

We Only Saw Happiness takes its title from a brief scene within the story where our narrator, Antoine, is looking back over a selection of family photographs and observes that, from only viewing these scenes, his childhood was a wonderfully happy one. In truth it wasn't and we get to learn both how Antoine feels his parents let him down and how he is determined to do better by his children. That he fails in some way is hinted at in the synopsis and is a menacing presence throughout the story. Antoine's childhood was beset by misfortune so I could understand his grumbling to a certain extent. However, he is the type of person who needs to apportion blame and I did get a little weary of him whining about what his parents did (or didn't do), and how he felt himself hampered by his introversion and low self esteem. I empathised, but also felt that by the point in his life from where he is narrating this tale Antoine should have overcome this debilitating shyness - especially in light of actions I can't reveal in this review!

Delacourt created interesting characters for other members of Antoine's family and I would loved to know more particularly about his Sagan-reading mother and about his sister, Anne. Anne is wonderful! The novel is nicely French in its style and attitudes so I enjoyed immersing myself into that culture. Personally, I didn't feel as though I truly anticipated Antoine's downfall to the extent that it goes. I thought his actions felt too far removed from his previous behaviour so I would be interested to know what other readers think. I wouldn't have forgiven him either, but that would have ruined the heart-warming aspect of this story! Overall I enjoyed this quirky novel. Unfortunately it touches on similar themes as Resin by Ane Riel (review being blogged tomorrow) and didn't blow my mind like that book so I felt underwhelmed. Had I read We Only Saw Happiness at a different time, I might well have rated it 4 stars rather than 3. Let's call it 3.5.

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

The prize is my (very carefully read) paperback edition of We Only Saw Happiness by Gregoire Delacourt.
Open internationally until midnight (UK time) on the 22nd August 2018.

Entry is by way of the Gleam widget below. This giveaway is entirely my own and is not affiliated with either the author or the publisher
(GDPR: Gleam will ask for your email address so that I am able to contact the winner. I will then need the winner's postal address in order to send out the book.)

We Only Saw Happiness by Gregoire Delacourt PB book giveaway

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Gregoire Delacourt / Contemporary fiction / Books from France


  1. I feel that's kind of a reflection of our online world, how if you just judged people by their photos, it would seem like most people's lives are perfect, but that doesn't mean they actually are. Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed this one, even if it was underwhelming.

  2. Congrats to Susan T who has won this giveaway!