The sixth book I read for the book challenge was All Those Things We Never Said by French author Marc Levy. It is te story of New York animator Julia Walsh who is about to be married to her sweetheart Adam on Saturday. The book opens just four short days before her wedding with her still having purchased no wedding dress. Her best friend Stanley, a gay antiques dealer, is with her looking for a dress and finally they find one that Stanley can alter and have ready by Saturday. Julia, Adam, and Stanley meet for dinner and there is an urgent message for Julia from her father’s secretary. Julia doesn’t want to take it because she is estranged from her father, but she does, thinking it is her father telling her he won’t make it to the wedding. And in a way, he won’t. He has died. And his burial will be on Saturday, the day of Julia’s wedding.
Julia postpones her wedding and buries her father, Anthony Walsh, whose body is flown from Paris where he died. She is feeling lost and alone. Her mother died of dementia when Julia was young and her father was always gone on business trips. They rarely had a chance to talk and had a major falling out when Julia was 18. Julia has been living on her own ever since. She regrets the time she lost out on never having with her father. She hates him for never having time for her and yet she loves him for his care for her when she was little. To say she is conflicted would be an understatement.
After the burial, Julia returns to her apartment to find that a large crate has been delivered to her apartment. She opens the crate to find an exact replica of her father, like what you would see in Madame Toussoud’s Museums but much more life-like. There is a remote control with it that has a note attached that tells Julia to push the white button. She pushes it and the replica comes to life. It is as if her father has come back to life. The replica explains that it is a collaboration between one of his companies and a Japanese robotics firm that has downloaded his memory into memory chips into his likeness and he will be able to be with her for six days and then his batteries will run out and he’ll be shipped back. They have six days to say everything they need to say to each other that they never said before. Julia is angry with her “father” and doesn’t want anything to do with him but eventually she agrees to work with him and talk to him. He talks her into using her honeymoon airline tickets to Montréal so they will have time to get away and talk.
While in Montréal Julia comes across a portrait of an old lover whom she thought was dead. Anthony Walsh tells Julia that she received a letter from this man after she thought he was dead but he, Anthony, never gave it to her. This was 17 years ago. Julia is understandably upset. When they return to New York, Julia goes to Anthony’s home, her old home, and finds the letter which proves Thomas, the man she once loved, is still alive and wanted her to meet him in Germany. But this was 17 years ago. Where would she find him now? And what does this mean for Adam who has been looking for Julia since she disappeared from New York for Montréal without so much as a word?
Will Julia find Thomas after all these years? If she does, will he be in any position to still love her. Will she still love him? She still has only a few days left with “her father.” There is so much still to say between them.
I liked this book. It is a romantic comedy-tragedy, about love lost and love found, about relationships. It is about what we say to one another and what we leave unsaid but should say. There are many surprises in this book and many hopes in this book, most of which are met. I would recommend this book to people who believe in love–love between a man and a woman, love between a father and a daughter, love between friends.