It's a treat to experience the humor and satire in DeWitt's latest novel about a family's fall from high society and its bemusing mother-son relationship. You will become emotionally attached to Frances and Malcolm, wanting to steer them away from self-destruction — but that story would be far less interesting than French Exit. Recommended By Kim S., Powells.com
A truly fun and engaging read. Everything you want in a dark and satirical comedy. While reading French Exit, I couldn’t help but think of the film Grey Gardens, a story of perhaps the most infamous formerly wealthy socialites and their fall from an upper-class lifestyle. At times, you want to cover your eyes as you watch the characters in French Exit happily skip towards complete ruin. Recommended By Bry H., Powells.com
Tapped as a "tragedy of manners," French Exit is a wonderfully dark tale of "rich people problems" held up against a backdrop of human nature. Frances, an aging and not very nice, formerly wealthy widow, and her hapless, directionless, man-child, Malcolm, flee New York to the anonymity of Paris as the end of their finances run out. DeWitt has captured a sort of A. M. Homes-ness here; Frances and Malcolm seem to "acquire" a motley crew of hangers-on, and just as with Homes, the fragile humanity seems to effortlessly bubble up out of every one of them. Razor-sharp, rapid-fire chitchat abounds here, and it is inspired and hilarious. DeWitt's capacity for dark comedy is pretty much unmatched, and even though they're awful people, you can't help but feel for Frances, Malcolm, their groupies, and even the cat! Still, amid the hilarity, deWitt does not hesitate to deal a deadly serious hand, making my response to this novel such a complex mix of emotions, it's hard to untangle. Almost too smart for its own good — but not quite — French Exit is yet another perfectly rendered feather in deWitt's cap. Bravo! Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
From bestselling author Patrick deWitt, a brilliant and darkly comic novel about a wealthy widow and her adult son who flee New York for Paris in the wake of scandal and financial disintegration
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 Price's 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.
"The first time I read French Exit, I raced through, impatient to know the fates of its characters. Then I turned back to page one to enjoy Patrick deWitt's understated satire and casually brutal wit." Nell Zink, author of Mislaid and Nicotine
"Darkly comic, perfectly brilliant...Let deWitt take you along on this dizzying, wild ride, you'll love every second of it, and then hop back to the beginning for another go. It's worth the trip." Nylon Magazine
"French Exit made me so happy — I feel as if I have downed a third martini, stayed up past sunrise, and still woken up refreshed. Brilliant, addictive, funny and wise, DeWitt's latest has enough charm to last you long after you've put it down." Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less
"...more depth than the usual comedy of manners — a depth reinforced by the exit that closes the tale...a bright, original yarn with a surprising twist." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Patrick deWitt is the author of the critically acclaimed Ablutions: Notes for a Novel, as well as The Sisters Brothers, which was short-listed for the Booker Prize. Born in British Columbia, he has also lived in California and Washington, and now resides in Portland, Oregon.