I’m working in a tourism office in France at the moment. A desperate-looking English woman came in today. They usually look a bit desperate when they come in here. Either for an English-speaker or for the toilet.
‘Can you help me?’ she says to me ‘I’m out of books, are there any bookshops round here that sell books in English?’.
I lean out of the doorway and scan the sleepy French high street for a WH Smiths, not finding one I report back to her: ‘No’
However not wanting to leave a fellow Brit bereft of books – especially as she’s here for two more weeks and she’s read both of her John Grisham’s and her one (large) Harlan Coben* – I tell her that I will see if we have any at home.
‘My partner likes Harlan Coben’ I tell her ‘She’ll probably have a few tucked away, come back tomorrow and I’ll give them to you’ .
‘But you have to promise to take Fifty Shades Of Grey and Bridget Jones’ Diary as well’ I silently add in my mind.
She comes back the next day, a hopeful smile beaming on her face.
‘She didn’t have any’ I tell her, instantly crushing her dreams of detectives or lovers or vampires or aliens or whatever Harlan Coben writes about.
She looks so crestfallen that I tell her I’ve got some English-language books lying around she can have, but they’re nothing like Harlan Coben (or maybe they are?) but she is welcome to them. And some of them may be Fifty Shades of Grey and Bridget Jones’ Diary.
‘Anything!’ she says joyfully ‘I’ll take anything!’
She may regret that when she sees what I have found for her.
Have you ever seen such an eclectic mix of books?
*She showed them to me as some sort of ‘proof of readership’ or something, I’m not really sure.