The Blurb Reads
It should have been easy, Nicolas Keszthelyi knew. The nuns at the Carmelite convent of Notre-Dame-de-Pitié had no idea that their collection of religious bric-a-brac contained a lost masterpiece worth millions. Anyone could have walked away with it. Certainly an unscrupulous dealer like Keszthelyi – with a network of shady contacts and an amoral devotion to beauty – should have had no trouble at all…
Now two people are dead, the convent has been burnt to the ground, and the work of art has vanished. Nicolas Keszthelyi is fleeing from the forces of law and order, and the only way for him to escape the consequences of his actions is to tell the whole story, including the parts that the police would rather stayed hidden.
People Like Us is a story about aesthetics, unrequited love, and what to do with frozen courgettes.
I thought this book seemed a little different which is why I picked it up from amongst the many that are up for offer in the ‘Making Connections’ group on Goodreads.
The book starts off in a different way. You can almost make out a Watson like narrative a-la Sherlock Holmes and you actually wonder whether the book will start to go somewhere in that direction. I didn’t even know the character’s name, the narrator actually. Till about a quarter of the book was over. So Nicolas finds himself in a small town of Brittany to look for an antique having being tipped off by an associate. He bumps into Estrade, a sort of polished criminal who is house-breaking and has made quite a few friends in the locals.
There continues Nicolas and Estrade’s journey to try and steal the artifacts from the small convent it is in and wing it. It is made quite clear that both the characters have had their brush ins with the law and do not look forward as such to getting caught or questioned by the Police.
Things are slow in Brittany. It is a miserable town filled with Expat Britishers who have settled down there but do not move back even though Brittany has nothing much to offer. A lot of the book is filled with narratives about how Nicolas spends his time and the typical characteristics of Britishers. Some anecdotes will no doubt make you smile.
The book is written in a very mature and seemingly sophisticated sort of outlook. It took me a while to figure out the whole purpose of the narrative and then the book began to make better sense to me. Yet I feel about 30% of the book is a colossal waste and absolutely inessential to the story. I could have done less with what goes on in that sleepy town or who decides to cosy up who. I don’t know, it was one of those stories that comes and goes and you can’t feel bad about having read it, but you can’t feel good about it either.
When it actually came down to the theft and to the final end, I felt it was rushed. The end made absolute sense, like someone had hit my head with a hammar and suddenly I understood the whole book in a new sense. But I didn’t like the fact that I’d read so very much to understand that Nicolas was relaying the same to the Police, or rather one Police woman in specific.
The end was puzzling. I think it was a bit random. It didn’t make any sense and did not correlate to the narrative. I found this book with the narrative it did have, to be one with so much promise. Sadly it was a very poor version of Sherlock Holmes, not even close.
I’d say, the way to guage how interesting the book is, is whether you do other things in between reading. When I was reading this book, I finished reading 3 other books, some which I picked up a few days ago (as compared to this book, which I picked up in June)
My Rating: 3/5
It has been long since I rated a book as 3/5. I liked the narrative but it was the slow pace of the story, much like the sleepy town of Brittany, that makes the book lose its sheen.