Lulu AnewIn Lulu Anew, by Étienne Davodeau, middle-aged housewife Lulu has just finished yet another disastrous job interview in an attempt to return to work after years of being a stay-at-home mom. On impulse, she decides to stay the night at an inn and return home in the morning, feeling strongly that she just needs… well, something. She’s not exactly sure what, but she definitely needs to not go right back to the same house and the same household chores and the same slightly abusive husband. Maybe a night away will give her perspective. At dinner, she meets a fellow middle-aged woman named Solange, with whom she commiserates on how hard and dreary life can be, especially for women of a certain age. Solange validates Lulu’s desire for a vacation, maybe even a total disconnect from her real life.

The next day, Lulu hitches a ride with Solange and begins her wandering.

The story is told in retrospect, with Lulu’s friends gathered at her house to share their pieces of the story. Each person knows a different part—even Morgane, Lulu’s sixteen-year-old daughter—and together they recount Lulu’s adventures over the past few weeks.

For readers who are not women of a certain age, this story may be a bit hard to understand because there is not a lot of reflection when Lulu goes walk-about. You see how she becomes more relaxed, more comfortable in her own skin, but you never really get why she goes at that moment. I personally loved that classic “show-not-tell” story-building. And who knows why we really decide to do things anyway? All the justification in the world is never really an explanation.

The art in Lulu Anew is real. People are depicted warts and all, and Lulu herself is not stunning, or unrealistically firm and unlined. She sags, her hair gets limp—she is a real person. The watercolor art, especially the views of French seaside towns, really give the reader a sense of place, so that you can almost smell the salt air. The book is a lovely vignette about a moment in a woman’s life and how her actions affect the people around her.

Lulu Anew
Étienne Davodeau
ISBN: 9781561639724
NBM Publishing, 2015

  • Emma Weiler

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support!

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