The Slow Waltz of Turtles, by French author Katherine Pancol, dances around l’amour et la mort, love and death. The recently divorced and then widowed Joséphine “Jo” Cortès must relearn how to date, as does her sister Iris, just as Jo’s teenage daughters are beginning to discover the complex web of romantic relationships for the first time. However, all is not fun and games, as there’s a murderer on the prowl.
The Slow Waltz of Turtles is a sequel to The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles. A third book, The Central Park Squirrels Are Sad on Monday, completes the series, but it has yet to be translated and published in the United States. However, The Slow Waltz of Turtles stands on its own, wrapping up the whodunit at the end.
The Slow Waltz of Turtles would be a good beach read. Other than untangling the jumble of characters, it has a simple plot – or, rather, plotlines if each character’s point of view is considered. Despite the variety of characters and how their personalities are hyperbolized, thoughts and dialogue are often indistinguishable from one to the next, even though the characters are from two different generations.
“Joséphine clutched the book to her chest, aglow with happiness. He loved her! He loved her!”
France has a vibrant history of literary masters, but Pancol is not among their ranks. However, if someone’s looking for a quick, easy read, they shouldn’t be fooled by the title. The Slow Waltz of Turtles might just be the right book for swiftly passing the time with ease.
Sarah Hutchins is an English Instructor and freelance writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. She earned a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Antioch University and a Bachelors of Arts in English from Portland State University. Her sagging bookshelves suffer from a peculiar fate: for each book read and removed, three or four magically appear in its stead. The books that find a permanent home on these same shelves are typically classics, French literature, philosophical novels and essays, and magic realism.
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