The follow-up to Anne Marsella’s lovely, modern-day, Paris-set fairy tale Remedy advertises itself as a ‘literary caper’.
In reality, though, it’s much more of a saunter: a languid, whimsical wander through the gently odd life of new mother Jane and the various human oddities who make up her world.
The Baby Of Belleville is a quietly subversive novel in that it resists easy categorisation, and it won’t appeal to readers who like their fiction obvious: it’s not chicklit, it’s not entirely a comedy and it’s not self-consciously literary, although it contain elements of each.
There’s a plot of sorts, involving missing stolen cars, Islamic kung fu specialists and a pregnant nun, that co-exists with Jane’s experience of new motherhood: Marsella is at her best as she writes about its joys and discomforts.
With the faint detachment of a foreigner living in a strange place, she offers the reader a sidelong glimpse of Paris and its idiosyncrasies that makes this strange, sweet book rather a find.