Charles is a busy architect living in Paris with his wife and step-daughter. One day he receives a letter which reads like this: Anouk is dead. This little piece of information throughs Charles off the track. His past is overwhelming him and he realizes that he is unhappy in his current life and that something needs to change.
Anouk was the mother of his childhood friend Alexis. Charles was secretly in love with Anouk and decides to visit Alexis, who once was an exceptionally gifted musician but now lives in a small town with wife and children. He gave up music and is unhappy, too. In that small village Charles meets Kate, who runs a farm and is foster mother to five children. She too is unhappy at night, feeling lonely with her problems. Charles falls in love with her. Is it possble for him to become happy with Kate and her children?
I think the book was too long. Everything that happened could have happened in less pages. I wasn't impressed with the story either, nothing exceptional happened. The characters Gavalda created are lovely and kind. But that's it.
I picked this book up because I loved Hunting an Gathering. I was disappointed with this one though. Gavalda showed significantly more wit in her forementioned novel.
I still highly recommend reading Hunting and Gathering also known as Ensemble C'est tout, which I reviewed here. This book also has been made into a movie with Audrey Toutou, known for her lead role in Amelie.
But don't bother with Consolation, which I would give 2 maybe 2.5 stars, but nothing higher.
I read this book for Paris in July 2011.