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French Exit

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  16,086 ratings  ·  2,209 reviews
From bestselling author Patrick deWitt, a brilliant and darkly comic novel about a wealthy widow and her adult son who flee New York for Paris in the wake of scandal and financial disintegration

Frances Price – tart widow, possessive mother, and Upper East Side force of nature – is in dire straits, beset by scandal and impending bankruptcy. Her adult son Malcolm is no help,
ebook, 256 pages
Published August 28th 2018 by Ecco
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Average rating 3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  16,086 ratings  ·  2,209 reviews

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Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-completed
This novel is unbelievable. The family, (father, mother son), are unbelievably dysfunctional. Their story is unbelievable. There is a cat in this story who is unbelievable. Their lives in New York and then later in Paris are comprised of unbelievable bits of the present day (including unbelievable friends and would-be friends) mingled with unbelievable jaunts down memory lane.

Somehow, Patrick de Witt takes all of this unbelievability, wraps it up into a story, and I read it with complete believa
Diane S ☔
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 Original, inventive, absurdist, all of these descriptions and more would be fitting. Wasn't quite sure where, in my head, to put this book, let alone how to come up with a rating. Generally, I rate like grnres with like genres, but this one seems to have an identity of its own. What a strange tale with some very unique characters, and a very unusual cat. A satirical comedy of manners and errors, if you will.

Maybe I was just in the mood for this, but I enjoyed this quirky little albeit unbeli
Larry H
Sep 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Frances Price has never really given a damn about what people think. A wealthy widow, she looks down on nearly everyone with whom she comes into contact (except Joan, her best friend since childhood). She and her adult son, Malcolm, live in an aging apartment on the Upper East Side and spend money indiscriminately, despite multiple warnings of increasing intensity from their financial advisor.

One day, Frances is told that she is on the verge of losing everything, and she must sell off all the po
Feb 14, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dubray, not-for-me, dull
Did you ever read a book that was so bad but you had to get to the end just incase someone would say to you “ Ah! But the ending made the book...shame you missed it” Well, the beginning, the middle or the end couldn't save this one from the one star rating.

I have read The Sisters Brothers The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt by this author and while I didn't love it, I did like it, as it was quirky and well written.
French Exit was was recommended to me for it’s wit and caustic sense of humor and if you are into that style of
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I loved Patrick de Witt’s Undermajordomo Minor. It was completely quirky and weird, but seriously turned my crank. Unfortunately, while French Exit has a similar oddball sensibility, this one fell quite flat for me. The story focuses on mother Frances and adult son Malcolm. As the story opens in New York, Frances learns that all her money is lost, after which she and Malcolm move to a friend’s apartment in Paris, where a number of people drift into their world. De Witt writes beautifully. I love ...more
Sam Quixote
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sixtysomething Manhattan socialite Frances, her 32 year old son Malcolm and their cat, Small Frank, live a relaxed life – until the family fortune runs out. Suddenly homeless, they head to Paris, France, to stay in a wealthy friend’s apartment where destiny awaits…

Oui - Patrick deWitt’s latest novel French Exit is tres bonne! It’s this pleasingly bizarre comedy about nutters that reads uncannily like a Wes Anderson movie by way of Arrested Development.

I read the book with Lucille and Buster Bl
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

“What’s the opposite of a miracle?” Frances sat upright in her bed. “How many letters?”

As soon as I started French Exit it seemed very familiar to me. I went perusing my friends’ reviews and discovered Sam had experienced the same sort of déjà vu . . . .

And that should be enough to let you know if you want to take a roll of this dice with this one. There are no “sort of” Wes Anderson fans (and if anyone tries to tell you they
Andrew Smith
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
I’d enjoyed The Sisters Brothers though not as much as many readers had. Perhaps this new offering from deWitt would charm we in a way that his Western novel had failed to?

The story of a dysfunctional relationship between an unpleasant mother and her very odd son (not to mention the deceased father who may now be living within the body of the pet cat) is a very strange offering indeed. Wealthy widower Frances Price had gained notoriety – and social exclusion – as a result of her having discover
Aug 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Patrick deWitt has the remarkable ability to write brilliantly in different genres whether the fairy tale of “Undermajordomo Minor,” the western of “The Sisters Brothers,” or in his most recent book “French Exit,” a comedy of manners. The abundant wit, satire, and skewering of the wealthy made this an entertaining read, but the infusion of death throughout the book detracted from what I anticipated based on the book’s subtitle. I appreciate dark humor, but at times it seemed to weigh down the sh ...more
Carol (Bookaria)
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2018
I learned about FRENCH EXIT through Buzz Books (Publishers Lunch). If you are not familiar with them, Buzz Books issues monthly publications where they list by category most books coming out that month, and also include a list of book excerpts from the list.

I read the first chapter and was drawn by the writing and sharp dialogue. After living a comfortable and wealthy lifestyle, Frances Price and her son, Malcolm, find themselves completely broke and without a home.

Thanks to Frances’ lifelong fr
Peter Boyle
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Oh dear. I'd consider myself a big Patrick deWitt fan, having adored The Sisters Brothers and Undermajordomo Minor. But little of his famed wit and ingenuity is present in his latest novel. It has a cast of peculiar characters and a story that just goes nowhere.

Frances Price is a wealthy 65-year-old New Yorker, a sharp-tongued widower who doesn't suffer fools gladly. Living with her in a luxurious apartment is her brooding son Malcolm ("a lugubrious toddler of a man") and their cat Small Frank,
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Would you like to read a laugh-out-loud funny, lighthearted, smart, sassy, somewhat dark and weird and fantastical novel that will take you completely away from current events and make you feel like you're eating birthday cake all day long, only now birthday cake is somehow good for you?

That's this novel.

Also, I would like to read an essay about how THE SISTERS BROTHERS is a Coen brothers movie and this one is a Wes Anderson movie.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
As with Dewitt’s delightful “Sisters Brothers”, we are treated again to quirky people in a minimalist, absurdist plot. This one wasn’t quite as zany, or as serious either. Still, it’s a fast read and left me with an amusing sense of an ensemble cast of simulacra strutting their stuff as partial people and, then, inevitably winding down. Our puppet people include the elderly golddigger Francis Price and her thirty-something son Malcolm, who are living the high life as residents on Manhattan’s Upp ...more
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
I don't really enjoy humour in books, and unlike some other readers, I didn't think there was anything funny or believable about this book. I've gained nothing from my experience and am surprised I actually finished it.

May 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, 2018, can-con
French exit
Noun. French exit (offensive) A hasty exit made without saying farewells to anybody.

I have been a fan of Patrick deWitt's from the beginning, and I believe I've read everything he's written; joyfully revelling in his ink-black, violent comedies. I was, therefore, rapturously delighted to have been sent an ARC – months early – of his latest, and so doubly disappointed when it turned out to be just okay. French Exit begins on a promising note – with a smart-talking Upper East Side widow
Matthew Quann
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Update 1-Oct-2018: Giller Prize Shortlisted!

I've long been a fan of deWitt's writing and his latest novel, French Exit, feels like it could have been written by no one other than him, but also feels like a move in a different direction from The Sisters Brothers and Undermajordomo Minor . DeWitt has always been funny, but French Exit is a comedy first and foremost. I was definitely getting in a good belly-laugh every 10 pages or so, and its rare that an author is able to deliver the goods
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
French Exit (aka ‘ghosting’) is apparently a term meaning to leave a social situation without saying goodbye to the hosts - a particularly apt title for this novel with the New Yorker socialite protagonists decamping to Paris after being declared bankrupt.

Although I am a big fan of black comedy, I found this rather a difficult one to engage with until I tuned into the author's wavelength. The dysfunctional mother and son relationship reminded me of JK Toole's 'Confederacy of Dunces', and de Witt
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This novel could not amuse me at all and I am sure that this was certainly Patrick deWitt's objective. Being sarcastic is something else than being hilarious. Such a shame after his very enjoyable and special novel The Sister Brothers.
Sid Nuncius
I’m afraid I didn’t get on with French Exit at all. It seems to me to be a novel which thinks a great deal of itself but adds up to very little.

Frances, a wealthy, viciously bitchy, snobbish New York widow (Really? Again?) completely dominates her overweight, ineffectual son Malcolm, and destroys any other relationship he may develop (Really? Again?). Her financial profligacy means that she is reduced to the abject penury of her last few hundred thousand dollars, and her only (improbable) frien
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
French Exit is deWitt’s fourth novel and I have read them all. He is best known for his Booker nominated “The Sisters Brothers”, scheduled for release as a movie in September 2018 (I’m looking forward to that!). But Ablutions and Undermajordomo Minor also share the dark comedy that is a trademark of deWitt’s writing. This novel is billed as a “tragedy of manners”, which I assume is a reference to a “comedy of manners”. It is important to note that as you head into the story. “Comedy of manners” ...more
T.D. Whittle
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
This book is like drinking, which is perhaps appropriate since there's a lot of imbibing within its pages. The party starts off well: the guests are witty and often very funny, if caustic; the dialogue is clever, with occasional sexiness playing round the edges. I, the reader, am having a marvelous time and am happy I came, since I'd considered doing otherwise. (Almost went to a Dicken's extravaganza instead!)

There is a tipping point, though, that feels something like drowning, and that too is a
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
deWitt is a mordant genius. That's all.
Judith E
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Author deWitt has created an odd and absurd cast of characters that I hope no one really knows. I loved The Sisters Brothers, but this sketchy story just didn’t jive. There are some funny scenes but it was a struggle to find any sort of tangible meaning in the writing or any clear purpose for the mockery.
How refreshing it is to read a story with no physical violence, murder, psychological torture or with the ubiquitous unreliable narrator.
deWitt, like Willy Vlautin is a highly underrated author. His amazing novel, The Sisters Brothers has a loyal following but it is no where near the size it should be.

The central characters of French Exit are Franklin, Francis and their son Malcolm. Franklin Price has made a fortune as a ruthless and ethically suspect litigator. When we meet Frances, it is 20 ye
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it
If you're in the mood for a light, humorous, witty read, then you'll enjoy this book. I initially really liked it, but it then became tedious and I just wanted it to be done!
Oct 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5, rounded down.

This was my first taste of deWitt, and while for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was very fast-paced and often LOL funny, the denouement didn't really work for me ... it started to go downhill about the time Small Frank starts speaking as Franklin, and from there my suspension of disbelief kept getting more and more tried. Regardless, for a silly and fun romp it isn't a bad time pass, and if Cate Blanchett is as smart as I take her for, she will immediately phone
(3.25) If you’ve read The Sisters Brothers, you’ll recognize deWitt’s deadpan, black humor here. This story of a prickly mother and her hapless son is less violent but more caustic, and initially difficult to love because of the characters’ flippancy and the unrealistic dialogue. No one really talks like this, I kept thinking to myself. But Frances and Malcolm grew on me as they sail from New York City to Paris and settle into a friend’s apartment with the cat Small Frank – no ordinary feline bu ...more
Roman Clodia
My first deWitt – and a read which is decidedly quirky. At first it seems nothing more that a piece of frothy entertainment as Frances Price, hapless son in tow, bitches her way through the world (on a hostess: ‘born to bore’, she dismisses; on a party guest: ‘Men’s teeth in a child’s mouth. I had to look away’.)

But soon a more uneasy sense of something starts to seep through: Malcolm’s abandonment at school until his father dies and his glamorous, eccentric mother pitches up to take him glorio
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Jul 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
Frances Price has always been a bit frightening.  Her name is well known around the Upper East Side for her beauty, snobbery, and especially for scandal.  Years ago when she found her sleazy lawyer husband dead from a heart attack, she left their home and went on a ski trip, not bothering to inform anyone of his death.
This has left tongues wagging for twenty years but a new scandal is on the horizon:  she's almost broke.

Frances packs up her adult son Malcolm and their cat Frank (the reincarnatio
Mattia Ravasi
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Video review

Beautifully written, at times hilarious, riddled with supernatural mysteries and featuring one of the most unforgettable cats I've read in a long time, the book - much like the life of its protagonists - is a thing of beauty cursed by chronic pointlessness.

Not a problem to me, but I fear the wrong reader may find this book insufferable. If you haven't read DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers, it makes little sense to choose this over that one.
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Patrick deWitt was born on Vancouver Island in 1975. He is the author of Help Yourself Help Yourself (2007, Teenage Teardrops), Ablutions (Feb. 09, Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt/Granta), which was named a New York Times Editors' Choice book, and The Sisters Brothers (May 2011, Ecco/House of Anansi). He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and son.

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