A review by tesslw
Paul by Daisy Lafarge

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


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! 

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