My Wish List
Jocelyne Guerbette (47) lives in a small down in France where she runs a fabric shop, has been married to the same man for twenty-one years, and has raised two children. She is beginning to wonder what happened to all those dreams she had when she was seventeen. Could her life have been different?
Then she wins the lottery – and suddenly finds the world at her fingertips. But she chooses not to tell anyone, not even her husband- not just yet. Without cashing the check, she begins to make a list of all the things she could do with the money. But does Jocelyne really want her life to change?
I read this all in one day around feeding my children. I think they were fed nothing but noodles and soda that afternoon. This in itself shows I was fairly preoccupied with this book.
My Wish List is a good read. Like my last review, A Man Called Ove,¬†the narrator has all but given up on life. She tries to tell herself she is satisfied with her lot. The book opens with:
“We’re always telling ourselves lies.”
“For instance, I know I’m not pretty. I don’t have blue eyes, the kind in which men gaze at their own reflection, eyes in which they want to drown so that I’ll dive in to rescue them. I don’t have the figure of a model, I’m more the cuddly sort-well….plump.”
I think Jocelyne is an unreliable narrator. We’re given reason later on in the book to believe that she is indeed attractive but she suffers from¬†a poor self esteem and the lack of desire to bring about change in herself or her circumstances. After losing her mother at a young age, Jocelyne’s father suffers a stroke and can’t communicate meaningfully with her or offer guidance in life. Jocelyne also loses a child and is very aware that her husband is also dissatisfied with their life after twenty-one years of marriage. In the early pages she details both the happiness of her early years and the love that grew and then largely faded away between her and Jo.
Yes, both Jocelyne and her husband Jocelyn have pretty much the same name. Which should have been an indication that they were a poor match to start with.
After meeting Jo, Jocelyn inherits a fabric shop. The owner, another maternal figure chokes on a button and dies. Jocelyne dutifully takes over. She starts a blog. It grows to 5000 page counts a day and many people get a lot of joy out of her posts. She is a loved member of the community but is unable to¬†appreciate or even notice this until Jo falls ill.
It becomes more and more apparent throughout the book that Jocelyne is addicted to misery and misfortune. She rejects or downplays all the good fortune that comes her way whilst at the same time noting what she does have to be grateful for could be in peril¬†if life were to materially change for the better.
Like her husband, Jocelyne is cursed with wanting more in her life but suffers an inability to enjoy her life or bring about change even when the tools to do so are right under her nose. So fate curses her with¬†a winning lottery ticket. 18 million euros. At this point another maternal figure warns her
“Money drives people mad, Madame Guerbette, it’s behind four out of five crimes…..
Then she makes me assure her that I’ve taken in everything she’s said. She gives me a small business card with four emergency numbers on it. Don’t hesitate to call us, Madame Guerbetter, and don’t forget, from now on you’re not going to be loved for yourself alone. ”