Reviews tagging 'Adult/minor relationship'

Paul by Daisy Lafarge

9 reviews

rly's review

Go to review page

dark reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

cillehh's review

Go to review page

dark emotional reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.25


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

tesslw's review

Go to review page

challenging dark emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

When 21 year old Frances leaves her studies in Paris following an academic disgrace that leaves her relationship with her supervisor virtually in tatters, she is excited to spend time working on organic / ‘eco’ farms across France. She’s looking forward to travelling the country, discovering new regions, and of course to meet new people. However it just so happens that one of those people is Paul; an ‘anthropologist’ turned photographer who owns Noa Noa, a farm in a sleepy southern town that Frances arrives at. Paul is charismatic and welcoming, a man of the world - but soon their relationship intensifies and Frances finds herself in a much more complex scenario than she had ever anticipated - and totally unable to determine the best way forwards. 

I don’t want to delve too far into the plot but LaFarge does an incredible job at creating a creeping, insidious sense of discomfort that slowly dials up the tension until you realise your skin is crawling. The way that our image and understanding of Paul gradually builds up as we meet more of his friends and acquaintances and start to see cracks and inconsistencies in the stories he has told is chillingly effective. Frances’ naivety and palpable vulnerabilities left me wanting to shake her on occasion but that just added to the agitation of reading this.  

This is a story of manipulation, passivity, gaslighting and powerplay, and also poses some interesting questions around silence and compliance, as well as how we perceive and navigate shame. Discovering that this book is also loosely inspired by the artist, Paul Gaugin certainly added an extra layer of context to this read as well. 

I really enjoyed the audiobook for this - and I definitely plan on picking up whatever Daisy Lafarge puts out next! 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

bella_cavicchi's review

Go to review page

dark emotional reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

The word that keeps coming to mind when I think about PAUL is "suffocating." It is intentionally uncomfortable, forcing readers to reflect on the persisting allure of men who do not deserve the status/position/adoration that society continues to grant them. If this is Daisy Lafarge's fiction debut, we are certainly in for a treat with whatever she writes next. (And if you've also read this—or even if you haven't!—I highly recommend Ella Fox-Martens' corresponding Atlantic article: https://www.theatlantic.com/books/archive/2022/09/paul-tears-down-myth-gauguin/671332/)

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

bxcvi's review against another edition

Go to review page

dark tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

anxiousbookclub's review against another edition

Go to review page

challenging dark reflective tense medium-paced

4.75


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

lilykeoh's review

Go to review page

challenging dark emotional reflective sad tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

momentsofmine's review

Go to review page

dark emotional reflective sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.25


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

booklane's review

Go to review page

challenging dark emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75

 
 What if Gauguin had lived in the 21st century?

An absorbing coming-of-age novel about a dysfunctional, abusive relationship between Paul, an older man, and Frances, a young research student who flees Paris after a traumatic experience (of which we will learn later on).

Still confused, “half-formed" and untethered, she sets off on a trip that should take her to work on a few organic farms. In Noa Noa, she meets Paul, farm owner and amateur anthropologist who has returned from Polynesia to France with lots of artefacts and diaries. While initially the novel resembles a very conventional romance, little by little the asymmetric relationship begins to crumble: starting from tiny, nearly imperceptible details, we witness Paul’s psychological manipulations, mansplaining and passive-aggressiveness and the way he takes advantage of Frances’ fragility as even darker truths emerge. After she leaves the farm, his pull draws her back and the two embark on a trip through the majestic, hazy summer landscape of the sunny countryside. Although she gradually realises what is going on and her self-awareness emerges, we see her unable to react, malleable and often deprived of her voice, and by the end I was totally invested in her character. I am actually still fuming when thinking of him!

Lafarge sets the novel in the present tense and keeps the tone laconic for immediacy, to emphasise Frances’ state of self-detachment and to replicate the effect of the anthropologist’s gaze, as epitomized by Levi-Strauss’ quote on “the complete absorption of the observer by the object of his observation”. Despite this being intentional, at times I was left wanting for some deeper thoughts and more incisive writing and dialogues,. In fairness the novel also contains effective images and metaphors and after a cold start it still drew me in.

I was truly fascinated by the way Paul’s character is modelled on Paul Gauguin: the organic community is a modern version of Gauguin’s search for a primitive, pristine world and reflects Lafarge’s concerns with climate issues; as to the artist, modern postcolonial criticism has exposed him as a sexual predator who had wife and children in Europe but used his white privilege to marry and have children with thirteen-year old girls, infecting them with syphilis. Their elusive gaze on canvas says it all.

This makes for a harrowing and enraging read, a nuanced portrayal of the relationship between predator and prey and a compelling coming of age novel.
 
My thanks to Granta and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 


Expand filter menu Content Warnings
More...