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Froth on the Daydream

Boris Vian

Average Review Rating Average Rating 6/10 ( Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Quartet Books

Published : 1947, 1988

Copyright : Boris Vian 1947

ISBN-10 : PB 0-7043-0062-1
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-7043-0062-0

Publisher's Write-Up

Froth on the Daydream by Boris Vian is a surrealist and existentialist novel renowned for its poetic and creative language. It relates how Colin's existence darkens gradually when his wife catches an illness than can only be cured with flowers?

Published initially in French as L'Écume des jours, originally translated as Froth on the Daydream, and filmed as Mood Indigo, this is a surreal cult classic that is now a major movie directed by Michel Gondry starring Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris.

The world of Froth on the Daydream is a stained-glass cartoon kind of a place, where the piano dispenses cocktails, the kitchen mice dance to the sound of sunbeams, and the air is three parts jazz. Colin is a wealthy young aristocrat, a slim, innocent creature who loves easily. The instant he sees Chloe, bass drums thump inside his shirt, and soon the two are married. Typically generous, Colin gives a quarter of his fortune to his best friend Chick so he can marry Chloe's friend Alyssum.

But a lily grows in Chloe's lung, and Colin must spend his remaining fortune on the only available treatment: surrounding her daily with fresh flowers. Chick squanders his share of Colin's money on rare editions of Jean Pulse Heartre, and Alyssum decides her only recourse is to murder the philosopher whose books are ruining her husband. Chick and Colin's money woes force them to sacrifice their carefree lives to soul-crushing work, and even the suicidal mice wear themselves out trying to restore the lustre to the kitchen tiles.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Ben Macnair (300616) Rating (6/10)

Review by Ben Macnair
Rating 6/10
Froth on the Daydream is a novel that dabbles with surrealism, with history, people, romance, and all of the good things in life. Written in 1947, as the world was coming to terms with the aftermath of the Second World War, we find the rich, successful Colin, with his household of mice, a butler, Nicholas with an expensive taste in cookery ingredients, and Colin’s friend, Chick. When Colin gives Chick a considerable amount of money, the reckless Chick is soon spending it all on first edition copies of books by the famous philosopher Jean Pulse Hearte, his marriage to the young and manipulative Alison, and other fripperies.

These are just the start of Colin’s troubles though, as he loses money faster than he can make it, his new wife Chloe falls ill with a troubling and rare illness, whilst his house shrinks around him and his loyal butler and friend Nicholas ages years in a few days…

This is not the happiest of books. Chick’s expensive collecting costs him his life, whilst Chloe illness can only be alleviated by expensive flowers, and when they run out, Colin’s grief is so over-powering that even his pet mouse commits suicide to avoid the gloom.

Although the themes of the novel are of the darkest colour, it is leavened by many intellectual jokes, and the closeness of the four principal characters is particularly well drawn. If you are on the lookout for a book that is completely original but exudes warmth and humanity, this book is well worth a read. Other people agree. It has already formed the basis of an opera and two film adaptations.
Ben Macnair (30th June 2016)

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