French Exit

French Exit

A Tragedy of Manners

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:

National Bestseller


Vanity Fair * Entertainment Weekly * Vulture * The Millions * Publishers Weekly * Esquire * San Francisco Chronicle * USA Today * Parade * The Washington Post * Buzzfeed

From bestselling author Patrick deWitt, a brilliant and darkly comic novel about a wealthy widow and her adult son who flee New York for Paris in the wake of scandal and financial disintegration.

Frances Price - tart widow, possessive mother, and Upper East Side force of nature - is in dire straits, beset by scandal and impending bankruptcy. Her adult son Malcolm is no help, mired in a permanent state of arrested development. And then there's the Price's aging cat, Small Frank, who Frances believes houses the spirit of her late husband, an infamously immoral litigator and world-class cad whose gruesome tabloid death rendered Frances and Malcolm social outcasts.

Putting penury and pariahdom behind them, the family decides to cut their losses and head for the exit. One ocean voyage later, the curious trio land in their beloved Paris, the City of Light serving as a backdrop not for love or romance, but self destruction and economical ruin - to riotous effect. A number of singular characters serve to round out the cast: a bashful private investigator, an aimless psychic proposing a seance, and a doctor who makes house calls with his wine merchant in tow, to name a few.

Brimming with pathos, French Exit is a one-of-a-kind 'tragedy of manners,' a send-up of high society, as well as a moving mother/son caper which only Patrick deWitt could conceive and execute.

Publisher: New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780062846921
Branch Call Number: DEWITT P
Characteristics: 244 pages ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jul 01, 2019

The story starts out well enough, even though the two principal characters are unlikable, even despicable. However, after the move to Paris is becomes bizarre with conversations between a "psychic" and a cat that supposedly is the incarnation of the main character's late husband. The book doesn't "end", it just peters out. It beats me why it won so many awards.

May 27, 2019

Patrick deWitt’s writing is always quirky and fun. I enjoy his work for the interesting turns of phrase he employs. However, in this one the characters are so self obsessed and annoying that it is difficult to stick with them through a very convoluted middle section. It may be impossible to repeat the brilliance of The Sisters Brothers, but I’ll stick with him in hope.

Apr 19, 2019

Such a quirky book full of dysfunctional people who, nevertheless, are stick together for different reasons. It becomes somewhat tedious towards the end but then I don’t usually indulge into other people’s problems so I didn’t.

Mar 18, 2019

It is true that everyone in this book is kind of awful. But they are awful in interesting and entertaining ways. This book is described as a "Tragedy of Manners" and this description really fits. It is written in the style of traditional comedy of manners novels, satirizing the upper class and their ways. And while there is much (very dark) humour and wry commentary on the wealthy mother and son who are the main protagonists, the tragedy of their lives permeates, as well. I can see how some might not like this novel, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and by the end, even cared about the awful people in it - a testimony, I think to DeWitt's writing.

TechLibrarian Feb 25, 2019

Deplorable characters meet absurd circumstances in Patrick Dewitt's latest novel. I loved both The Sisters Brothers and Under Majordomo Minor, so I was really looking forward to this, but I had a tough time getting into it. After reading about 25 pages I returned it to the library, then took it out again recently when I wanted something light and entertaining. It reminded me some of the series Arrested Development, so I would recommend it to fans of that series, but for anyone who is looking to start out with Dewitt I'd instead recommend his first two books. All in all it was a quick read and funny, though definitely not for everyone!

Feb 18, 2019

kept waiting to care about any of the characters
some clever writing but it didn't tickle my funny bone, either light or dark

Jan 28, 2019

Dewitt's writing is always a trip! His stories are flabbergastingly hilarious at times and the darkest dark at other times. Recommended!

Jan 03, 2019

A riotously funny book about mostly terrible people who come together out of fate, loneliness or happenstance. The narrative is terrific in its flow with the current timeline and carving out the leads backstories which are quite compelling and in their own way also horrific - as human nature can be, especially with great privilege. Excellent storytelling and a satisfying conclusion. Greatly enjoyed this book!

Dec 27, 2018

Quite a contrast to Sisters Brothers. Set, not in the wild west, but in the rarefied social circles of New York and later Paris, French Exit is a story (of sorts) about mother and son and family dysfunction - with an eclectic assortment of (likeable and somewhat mysterious) characters thrown in. I found it really enjoyable.

Dec 21, 2018

4.5 stars for this darkly absurd comedy. Loved it.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Apr 12, 2019

Page 188-You get older and you don’t even want love. Not the love we believed in when we were young. Who has the energy for that? I mean, when I think of the way we used to carry on about and women throw themselves out of windows. What you want is to know someone’s there ; you also want them to leave you alone. I’ve got that with Don. But I was shocked because I suddenly understood that the heart takes care of itself. We allow ourselves contentment; our heart brings us ease in its good time.

Page 190-“yes, my life is riddled with clichés, but do you know what a cliché is? It’s a story so fine and thrilling that it’s grown old in its hopeful retellIng. People tell it but not so many live it”


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at LPL

To Top