English translation published by Gallic Books – 2010 (originally published in 2004) – 164 pages
Hector is a successful psychiatrist. But next to people with actual disorders, he treats many others who are unhappy without anything in their lives being really wrong. Dissatisfied and unhappy himself that he can’t help those, he sets off on a journey to find out what really makes people happy (and sad). Meeting old friends and making new ones, Hector not only learns about others but also learns some important lessons himself.
The only shadow on my happiness is when I tell myself sometimes as it’s all going well, it can’t last, that one day things won’t be so good.
This book is part of the series Hector’s Journeys with other books in the series being called Hector and the Secrets of Love or Hector and the Search for Lost Time and a bunch more that haven’t been translated into English (available in French and German though).
I usually wouldn’t have picked this book up but I saw it at a charity shop and it seemed familiar to so I got it. Turns out it’s familiar because a movie (with the same title) came out in 2014 starring Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Stellan Skarsgård and more, directed by Peter Chelsom. Although I haven’t seen the movie, so if you’ve seen it let me know in the comments what you thought about it!
Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story.
Psychiatry is such an interesting field but I really don’t like books or movies with psychiatrist in major roles and I’m sorry that this book wasn’t able to prove me wrong. I’m a fan of Simon Pegg so having in mind that he played Hector, book Hector disappointed me alot. Unfortunately he wasn’t likeable at all. He kept talking about beautiful woman and how he can’t look at them when they talk because they are so pretty and then he simply stops listening to them whenever they talk and there were some generally sexists and “old-fashioned” statements made, too (fine, mind you that was first released in 2004 before the new wave of feminism, but boy it’s still the 21st century).
The basic mistake people make is to think that happiness is the goal.
Now, I actually checked a couple times whether this isn’t a children’s book, it isn’t, because the way it was written felt so much like it. The sentence structures were very easy and things kept being repeated how they do for children who only just start reading, and the book kept posing questions that it would answer straight away and it was just so weird. I don’t mind reading children’s book from time to time but this book had none of the charm Dahl books have, for instance.
Oh, and having sex is called “the thing people do when they love each other” which again is wrong on so many points. If it isn’t a children’s book why talk around it like that, and it isn’t mentioned only once but like a lot on Hector’s travels, although he has a girlfriend back home. Also, you can love each other without doing the do and vice versa.
Many people see happiness only in their future.
All in all, there were some nice parts in this book but nothing life-changing. I didn’t enjoy the style, and the characters were all very generic and had no depth (it is a very short book but still no excuse). Now that I look at it it’s obvious to me that I never enjoyed these kind of books so I really don’t even know why I picked this up, oh well.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5