Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review: Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord

This slight book is about a psychiatrist named Hector who travels the world trying to understand what makes people happy (and conversely what makes them unhappy). He is not entirely satisfied with life himself and so he is looking for the keys to contentment. Hector finds small bits of wisdom throughout his travels and he jots these tiny kernels of truth down in a notebook, ultimately compiling a list of universal happiness factors.

Despite a barebones frame of a plot, this is really very much a self-help book masquerading as fiction. And indeed, it turns out that the author has written successful self-help books. I am certainly not the best audience for self-help, even self-help cloaked in fictional raiment as I find too many of the revelations to be self-evident. In this case, the lessons are also simplistic and trite. The fact that these truths are coming from a character who apparently finds happiness in (literally) a woman in many of the places he goes despite his partner at home also helped make this a slightly unpleasant read. Obviously I didn't love this parable and don't see the marketing comparison to Le Petit Prince but perhaps readers who need reminding not to compare themselves to others and that "happiness is a certain way of seeing things" will find more of interest here than I did.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.


  1. Sounds very whimsical, but whimsy can sometimes, overwhelmingly, devolve into twee. Too bad! Love the cover design, at least. ;)

  2. I picked this one up on a whim at BEA, but despite its slim size, I haven't made time for it. Your review leads me to believe I won't care for it, but because it is so small, I'll probably still read it. How odd of me.

  3. Using my If-Kristen-Hates-It-I'll-Love-It rule here and am keeping this book at the top of my wishlist....


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