One of our recommended books is The Lost Manuscript by Cathy Bonidan

THE LOST MANUSCRIPT

A Novel


The Lost Manuscript is a charming epistolary novel about the love of books and magical ability they have to bring people together.

Sometimes a book has the power to change your life…

When Anne-Lise Briard books a room at the Beau Rivage Hotel for her vacation on the Brittany coast, she has no idea this trip will start her on the path to unearthing a mystery. In search of something to read, she opens up her bedside table drawer in her hotel room, and inside she finds an abandoned manuscript.

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The Lost Manuscript is a charming epistolary novel about the love of books and magical ability they have to bring people together.

Sometimes a book has the power to change your life…

When Anne-Lise Briard books a room at the Beau Rivage Hotel for her vacation on the Brittany coast, she has no idea this trip will start her on the path to unearthing a mystery. In search of something to read, she opens up her bedside table drawer in her hotel room, and inside she finds an abandoned manuscript. Halfway through the pages, an address is written. She sends pages to the address, in hopes of potentially hearing a response from the unknown author. But not before she reads the story and falls in love with it. The response, which she receives a few days later, astonishes her…

Not only does the author write back, but he confesses that he lost the manuscript 30 years prior on a flight to Montreal. And then he reveals something even more shockingthat he was not the author of the second half of the book.

Anne-Lise can’t rest until she discovers who this second mystery author is, and in doing so tracks down every person who has held this manuscript in their hands. Through the letters exchanged by the people whose lives the manuscript has touched, she discovers long-lost love stories and intimate secrets. Romances blossom and new friends are made. Everyone’s lives are made better by this bookand isn’t that the point of reading? And finally, with a plot twist you don’t see coming, she uncovers the astonishing identity of the author who finished the story.

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  • St. Martin's Press
  • Hardcover
  • January 2021
  • 288 Pages
  • 9781250256300

Buy the Book

$26.99

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About Cathy Bonidan

Cathy Bonidan is the author of The Lost ManuscriptCathy Bonidan works as a teacher in Vannes and has been writing since the age of 14. Her debut novel, The Perfume of Hellebore Rose, won 11 literary awards in France.

Praise

“The epistolary form allows Bonidan to incorporate myriad emotional love stories, resulting in a sweeping, heart-tugging romance. Readers will be thrilled.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The Lost Manuscript is first and foremost a love letter to literature and readers. Eternally hopeful, this buoyant epistolary novel is refreshingly devoid of cynicism and instead celebrates the ways in which books can enrich our lives and foster connection.” BookPage

A delightful literary puzzle, as addictive as a thriller, as moving as a confession. Yes, one book can change the life of several people: turn the first page of this novel and you will be convinced!” — Christine Féret-Fleury, author of The Girl Who Reads on the Métro

“In this wonderful epistolary novel, a woman finds a long-lost manuscript, searches for the author and sets in motion a beguiling story about love, literature and community. What more could a reader want? Toss in a few gorgeous French villages to add to the charm. Et voila. Literary joy.” –Ellen Sussman, author of the New York Times bestselling novel, French Lessons

“Dear reader, The Lost Manuscript is a love letter to letters, to love, to the love of reading and the belief that a book can change a life–or in this case, many, and possibly yours. It’s hard not to disappear into this book–and if you do, tell your friends they can find you at the Beau Rivage Hotel, in the wonderfully well-appointed room 128. Bon voyage!”– Liam Callanan, author of Paris by the Book

Excerpt

RUE DES MORILLONS, PARIS, APRIL 25, 2016

Dear Madam or Sir,

I am sending you this package very late, please forgive me.

After discovering it in room 128, someone else would have immediately handed it over to the reception of the Beau Rivage Hotel; nevertheless, if you were to ask those who know me, they’d tell you just how lazy I can be in my daily life. So don’t take this postponement to mean that I don’t like your book. Not at all. I will even admit to you: I read it.

I had just opened the nightstand to the right of the double bed, which as it happens was quite comfortable, when I was delighted to find the distraction you provided me. You see, I had forgotten to bring a novel to keep me company this weekend on the shore of the Iroise Sea … Since I can’t fall asleep without first reading a few pages, I become very annoying when I’m deprived of the pleasure. Thanks to you, my husband didn’t have to deal with my rotten mood.

Anyway, it was on page 156 that I found—between two chapters—the address to where I’m sending these pages. I hesitated for a long time and, to tell you the truth, my spouse and my children didn’t support my “bizarre” initiative—to use my daughter’s vocabulary, her only excuse being that she’s sixteen years old.

My husband decided it must be an old manuscript turned down by publishing houses and abandoned in a drawer, waiting to attract some desperate reader. My son went even further, arguing that a book in such a bad state and typed on a primitive typewriter must have been lying around in that hotel “for eons” and that its owner would have retrieved it “ages ago” if it held even the slightest interest in their eyes.

I was almost convinced by their arguments, until I arrived at page 164. There, in the margin, was this note:

What’s the point in the end? Don’t lies eventually lead us to the path of truth? And don’t my stories, true or false, come to the same conclusion, don’t they all have the same meaning? So what does it matter if they’re true or false if, in both cases, they signify what I have been and what I am. Sometimes we see more clearly into someone who lies than into someone who tells the truth.

I was so surprised to see that quote! I had stumbled upon an anonymous author by chance and discovered that he also was an admirer of my favorite writer. By stealing these few sentences from him, you reinforced the ambiguity of your text. While I was wondering at page 164 whether I was reading fiction or someone’s life story, you sent me, in an aside, a response from Normand …

And then I discovered the poems on the last page, added in pencil, in a slanted handwriting covered with traces of eraser, evidence that someone had deliberated over the right words. Let me assure you that you succeeded. When I read your words, I felt that slight shiver we feel when the lines we’re reading seem to have been written just for us.

It was at that moment, I think, that I decided to thumb my nose at my family’s advice and return the book, without knowing whether I was sending it to a woman, a man, a teenager, or an elderly person, lugging the manuscript from hotel to hotel, like those believers who protect themselves from the wrath of God by carrying a Bible wherever they go.

The only way to get a response was to entrust the package to the postal services, hoping a creative mailman would track you down at the end of the journey (having never sent a package with an address but no addressee, I’m counting on the amused curiosity of an underpaid employee to help me carry out this return).

If you would be so kind as to acknowledge receipt, you’ll find my name and address on the back of the envelope.

Thank you for the enjoyable reading experience you’ve provided me, even if unwittingly.

Sincerely,

Anne-Lise Briard

Copyright © 2019 by Cathy Bonidan