L’Etrange voyage de monsieur Daldry

It is the title of the book, written by French novelist Marc Levy, that our new member Hiba Mednini wrote about in MOMUS, AEGEE-Europe’s cultural magazine. Have you read this book?

“The most important man in your life has just past behind you. In order to find him you must go on a long journey and meet six people that will lead you to him… You possess two lives within you Alice, The one that you know and the one that has been waiting for you for a long time”.
This quote captures the soul of L’Etrange voyage de monsieur Daldry by the French novelist Marc Levy. The book is set in post-WWII London. Alice a perfume creator who lives alone; however, she is constantly surrounded by a group of her friends. Mr. Daldry is her eccentric and lonely neighbor. Her life completely changes after a visit to Brighton on New Year’s Eve as she eventually goes on a strange journey with her neighbor Mr Daldry.

Personally, this book is my favorite; it is entertaining, inspiring and catching without being boring or too complicated. It is indeed mystifying, yet presented in a simple and easy to follow manner. The plot is well elaborated and unpredictable (even by my standards). While reading this novel, I was overwhelmed at the same time by the desire to turn the page to know more and to slow down and enjoy the book.

I fell in love with Istanbul twice, the first time when I read this book and then second when I actually visited the city. In the book, the depiction truly succeeded in captioning the particular spirit of the city, where east meets west. As a reader, I was able to feel the charm of Istanbul and to draw detailed images in my mind of every place that the characters have visited. The vivid depiction of the colorful city was so realistic that I was able to imagine myself walking through the bazaars in the morning or drinking tea while observing the Bosporus at night. It felt like déjà vu for me as if I were on the journey as well.

When I finished reading the book I could not stop wondering about the journey itself and the possibility of having ‘two lives’. The life we are already living is the first, while the second waits for us to get out of our comfort zones, which could be done in different manners. The idea of having a different and exciting life away in a distant part of the world is quite enchanting and tempting. However, traveling is not the only way to turn one’s life around.

Many people are stuck in dead-end jobs or pursuing a field of education without a strong conviction while feeling that they do not have an alternative. Nevertheless, they never had the courage to pursue their dreams, to take a break or to experiment. They never consider true change out of fear of the consequences. Taking a journey to the other part of the world is the extreme option. The journey does not have to be physical; it could be done by questioning oneself and trying to find out one’s true identity and aspirations. Making slight changes in the daily routine can have an enormous impact on someone’s life by making it more fulfilling. Learning a new language, getting more involved in civil society, volunteering or even joining a gym are among the possibilities.Those who are afraid of change are usually procrastinators who find safety in their comfort zones.

In other cases, a radical change is highly required. Isn’t it tempting to leave everything behind and to start over somewhere new?

In the book, Alice was led by a prophecy that she found difficult to believe at first. However, in reality, it is possible to have a hunch or a strange feeling that our second life is waiting for us in a country different than ours. She found everything she ever dreamed of simply by challenging herself and starting over in a new environment.

Sometimes by leaving home, we discover more about ourselves or personalities. It is undeniable that stepping out of the comfort zone towards the unknown can be beneficial in certain cases as it peels layers and layers of humans down to their bare souls. The idea of stepping away from everything that is familiar to us might be scary; nevertheless, it pushes us to our limits so as to try and create a new life. After a while, we could truly feel liberated from the habits we have been accustomed to and the things that we were attached to. Some people might be afraid of such adventure since they cannot survive away from home.

However, I believe that the concept of ‘home’ itself is quite debatable. They say’ home is where the heart is’, but the capacity of love which the heart possess has no limits. Therefore, I believe that it is possible to have more than one home. People can fall in love with different cities or countries and keep them in their hearts as ‘home’.

To conclude, what I really liked about this book is the journey itself, mysterious yet easy to follow. It was inspiring in a sense of self-exploration. By leaving our comfort zone we obviously give up our comfort and every familiar thing to which we are attached. However, it is worth it since we step into a new world, still in need for creativity and innovation. Reading this book is quite needed in a time of lack of inspiration or a true need for some changes.


The article is available at http://www.aegeemomus.eu/2017/02/11/letrange-voyage-de-monsieur-daldry/ 

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