Oscar and the Lady in Pink – Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

It’s really a bit rude of me isn’t it? I ask you all for your advice on a book that I should read next (as I did on Saturday) and then I go and read something completely different. Yet haven’t we all done this? You go through your book shelves and pick three books that you really would like to read and then a book on another shelf or something from the library catches your eye and off you go on a reading tangent as I did with ‘Oscar and the Lady in Pink’ by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt this weekend.

I hadn’t heard of this book until I saw it in the library a few weeks ago and from reading the premise thought I should give it a go. This novella is the tale of ten year old Oscar who is currently residing in hospital with terminal cancer. Oscar himself knows he is going to die, after doing what a lot of young kids like to do and eavesdropping, yet his parents won’t talk to him about it. Only one person will and that is ‘Granny Rose’ on of the ‘pink ladies’ who comes in to visit all those in the hospital and hopefully bring some joy into their stays in the hospital or in the patients final months and weeks. She tells him that he should live each day as if it were ten years in one day and at the end of the day write to God with one wish for the next day.

I was a little worried at one point that bringing God into the book might make this book turn into some kind of preaching exercise and it doesn’t. Instead we are given the insight into the life of an angry, upset and confused young boy as he makes sense of his situation and Schmitt gets us into the thoughts and emotions of that boy incredibly well. We even get some humour as he talks about some of his antics and some of the other patients like ‘Peggy Blue’ named because a condition of blood not reaching the lungs makes her blue, Oscar is infatuated with her but worries if he still will when she goes pink again after her operation.

The character of Granny Rose is a wonderful one too. An apparent former boxing champion who fought against the likes of ‘Plum Pudding’, ‘Nutcracker’ and ‘Dragon Breast’ in her heyday brings a caring yet honest and occasionally blunt figure into Oscars world and the relationship between them is a joy to read. Though I will admit you might need your hankies for the ending this is definitely a book worth reading despite being in parts upsetting as it is also incredibly uplifting too, a read that I would highly recommend to you all.

12 Comments

Filed under Atlantic Books, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, Review

12 responses to “Oscar and the Lady in Pink – Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

  1. This sounds lovely, if sad, Simon! I’ve never heard of it before – thanks for bringing it to our attention!

    • It is sad but like I mentioned its also really uplifting which I think is a difficult thing to pull off and yet Schmitt makes it look pretty effortless and all in under 90 pages.

  2. This sounds like a lovely read – whic hI’ve not heard of. The title intrigues me too as I am a pink person (even got a pink enagagment ring hahaha).

    I do like reading tangents.

    • I hadn’t heard of it before the crazy cover appealed at the library, reading the blurb I thought ‘this could be challenging’ and it was and yet in so many ways a very funny and (I am going to bore everyone with this word today) uplifting read too.

  3. What an intriguing idea for a novel. I’m always fascinated by books about children battling illnesses: my brother spent a lot of time in hospital when he was young (because he was a disaster-prone little boy, not chronically ill) and ended up rooming with a number of children fighting major diseases. Some survived, some didn’t, but meeting those children (and, even more tragically, their parents) when I was still so young definitely affected me. Will definitely add this one to the TBR list.

    • Its an unusual book in many ways as I have read books where young people are ill but never from the mindset of them or so vividly and looking at what it all entails. Its a brilliant novella.

  4. I’m also guilty of asking for recommendations and then promptly ignoring them. Oh well, you never know when you might be in the mood for something and that rec will pop into your head and finally fulfill its destiny!

  5. novelinsights

    This sounds really original and from your review, a very good little story. One to look out for in future perhaps…

    • Have a gander at your local library. The books a lovely and sad read that is quite different from other stuff I have read. Thats whats good about libraries you take that extra chance sometimes and find books like this.

  6. ayni

    i have a question, can you describe the characters in this story?

  7. Yay, I’m glad to see that people read French Books 😀 I haven’t read it yet, but I’m willing to !

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