Book Review: These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper

‘Within its walls, people kiss. They talk, they laugh; someone cries, perhaps. A few are glad to sit alone. Others wish that they did not.’ Meet the residents of Number 37

TheseDividingWallsAbout the Book

Publisher’s description: In a forgotten corner of Paris stands a building. Within its walls, people talk and kiss, laugh and cry; some are glad to sit alone, while others wish they did not. A woman with silver-blonde hair opens her bookshop downstairs, an old man feeds the sparrows on his windowsill, and a young mother wills the morning to hold itself at bay. Though each of their walls touches someone else’s, the neighbours they pass in the courtyard remain strangers.   Into this courtyard arrives Edward. Still bearing the sweat of a channel crossing, he takes his place in an attic room to wait out his grief. But in distant corners of the city, as Paris is pulled taut with summer heat, there are those who meet with a darker purpose. As the feverish metropolis is brought to boiling point, secrets will rise and walls will crumble both within and without Number 37…

Book Facts

  • Format: ebook
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
  • No. of pages: 250
  • Publication date: 16th May 2017
  • Genre: Literary Fiction

My Review (5 out of 5)

I was really, really impressed with this book; despite being a debut is it has such an assured feel to it. From the beginning I was drawn into the stories of the various individuals living at Number 37, storing up the nuggets of information provided by the author about each character. I felt a bit like James Stewart’s character in Hitchcock’s Rear Window, eavesdropping on the residents of the neighbouring apartments.

Number 37 seems to act as a microcosm of society, not just French society.   There are secrets, frustrations, unhappy memories, prejudice, loneliness, depression, love and loss. But there are also new beginnings, reconciliations and a coming together in adversity.

The author very cleverly connects the intimate personal stories to the wider political situation in France where tensions over unemployment, immigration and change threaten to boil over in the sweltering heat of a Paris summer. Reading this in the wake of the terror attack in London, the events depicted and the emotions that gave rise to them really resonated.

I absolutely loved this book and I can’t wait to read more from the author who I’m sure has a glittering career ahead of her. Highly recommended.

I received an advance reader copy courtesy of NetGalley and publishers, Hodder & Stoughton, in return for an honest review.

To buy a copy of These Dividing Walls from Amazon.co.uk, click here (link is provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme)

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In three words: Engaging, thoughtful, intimate


FranCooperAbout the Author

Fran Cooper grew up in London before reading English at Cambridge and Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She spent three years in Paris writing a PhD about travelling eighteenth-century artists, and currently works at a London museum. These Dividing Walls is her first novel.

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