Book Review: Sylvie Granotier’s The Paris Lawyer

Posted May 11, 2014 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Sylvie Granotier’s The Paris Lawyer

The Paris Lawyer

on February 2013 and has 280 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

A story of suspense in Paris, France, that revolves around a young lawyer eager to make her mark. I received this book from the publisher for an honest review. God help them, that’s what they’re getting.

The Paris Lawyer has won the Grand Prix Sang d’encre. I guess if it’s anything like most books I’ve read that received a literary honor, it makes sense that I can’t make sense of it.

My Take

In all honesty, I’ve only read 20% of the story on my Kindle. I simply can’t read any more as the writing is so stiff and leaps back and forth in time and from topic to topic so much that my eyeballs are rolling around in my head. In fact, it reads like a screenplay with directions to the actors as well as the stage manager.

I think there’s a possibility of this being an interesting story, but it’s so convoluted and jumpy — think of a jumping bean on a hot plate — that between this and the eyeball rolling, I am getting a headache trying to figure out what’s going on.

I’ve tried to figure out the point of view from which the story is being written, but not being able to make sense of what’s happening and the jumpiness makes this impossible. Another negative for me is all the tell. I’m being told what emotions to feel, but I’m not feeling anything. I’m more confused about bad food that tasting it. There’s a love scene that defies excitement, and while it is the most wooden love scene, I don’t mean in the stiff sense.

“In fact, she lies down on the bed and politely waits for him to lie down next to her, for him to undo the buttons on her shirt one by one, to explore her skin with the palm of his hand,”

…oh yeah, I’m excited…yawn…

Catherine asks Devers why he didn’t wear a suit and his response is to comment on her being a woman. Annnd, this is a relevant question, how? What am I missing?

“The very tone of his question says he’s taking up the challenge. Women are his preferred prey. … Catherine’s reflex is to lash out. “Studs don’t turn me on. All I’m interested in is supporting women’s causes. Yep, I’m a feminist bitch. Come on.”

Hmmm, actually the sentences make more sense taken out of context… Although I don’t really understand why she’s lashing out. Is this normal client-attorney interaction? Is this a standard interaction for French attorney-client interactions? I feel like a chunk is missing. Nor do I understand how the prosecutor-judge duo are bad news for her client. It doesn’t make sense that just because they don’t like clients who stay together no matter what, that they’d object to a man who doesn’t want to start up with someone he doesn’t want to be with.

It does go into a more expected scene with Catherine assessing her client, and I love what she tells Devers about his current state of mind and Granotier’s assessment of the so-called victim.

Um, what does Granotier mean that the volunteers retrieve treasures brought to the office? I can’t tell if she’s being sarcastic or why the volunteers would take them home. Do they bring them back again? Or maybe it’s at night that the volunteers scrounge the streets looking for furniture discards?

Okay, Catherine says goodbye to Daniel and suddenly pulls a door shut and activates a time switch which lasts two seconds. Umm, she’s gone to the bathroom? She’s in an elevator that the landlord doesn’t want to waste electricity on? And then we suddenly leap to, I’m guessing, a memory of her dad as a poor orphan? She’s all over the place like a frantic pingpong ball. We leap from Catherine thinking about Devers to Stephanie (??) wanting to know about a flabby lawyer and the gym and then we leap over to karaoke and a New Year’s party. Jesus, I’m getting a headache trying to make enough sense to write this.

Oh, well, now we’re into suck-up mode talking about Maître Renaud, *eye roll*.

Some of the confusion is due to a poor translation. Of course, that’s merely my perspective. Perhaps it makes sense to people accustomed to living in Paris or used to translations from French, which isn’t me. Or maybe it’s just pretentious mode…I dunno.

“She is totally thrown off by space, another handicap stemming from the primal scene.”

What a jerk father! He’s forbidden any mention or mementos of her mother, and then on her graduation day when she’s planning to go out and celebrate with her friends, he suddenly says she can ask him anything she wants about her mother. But only for that day. He’s also a hypocrite, demanding that Catherine do what he cannot.

Interesting bit of advice for anyone about ensuring your dominance. And I like the bit about “a freely consented relationship, rather than the arranged marriage that commonly exists between an attorney and a client”. Another good question Catherine raises about her submissive client, how she could find “the determination needed to commit murder”.

Oh, crack me up! Catherine is busy branding herself…

Huh, as easy as it is to get inside the farmhouse, I’d have grave doubts about only one person having access to the poison.

And it simply keeps going like this…

The Story

It’s a major coup for Catherine when Maître Renaud gives her the murder case, and it’s his suggestion that Catherine head out into the provinces to learn more about this marriage.

Once there, she meets a variety of people, including a very helpful reporter and a teller of stories, who tells Catherine the story of Gaston’s parentage.

The Characters (for 20% in)

Maître Catherine Monsigny is a cynical young lawyer anxious to make a good impression and win her first major case. Maître Renaud is the lead lawyer in the law firm where Catherine works. Sophie is the receptionist. Stephanie??? Catherine’s dad is retired and, while he’s a loving dad, he’s also a selfish man following the murder of his beloved wife, Violet.

In Saint-Jean-les-Bois
Myriam Villetreix, formerly N’Bissi, a Gabonese orphan, is something of a mail order bride who has been arrested for the murder of Gaston Villetreix, her 60-something-year-old husband. The Villetreix cousins claim he was murdered. Tania is her second cousin-sort-of-roommate? Roland Perret is the presiding judge. Louis Bernier is a reporter for La Montagne. Olivier is a young storyteller who feels responsible for some reason. Camille, the papa, was a gentle man and a drinker; it sounds like a necessity being married to the wealthy and nasty Huguette.

Cedric Devers is a client charged with assault and battery on Monique Lemaire. I began to get the impression that he killed Catherine’s mother all those years ago???

Tstse is the nickname for a fellow lawyer known for his monotonous, never-ending sentences. Daniel is the eternally optimistic association chairman for Rights For All.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a red violet collage of the Eiffel Tower, balloons, a vineyard, and what looks like a town on a mountain.

The title is about Catherine Monsigny, The Paris Lawyer, heading out into the sticks and backwoods of life, murder, and memories.