The Professor’s History is at heart a story of self-discovery. Some old French guy skips the country in the middle of a war, and travels to North Africa to see exactly how bad his country screwed them over. He comes to realise that the Frogs have a lot to answer for and in his anger and guilt he decides to take the ultimate step and… write a book about it.
Oh dear Lord. Call the U.N. and warn the world. Not a book. Oh. Please. No.
Messud starts with promise, but then at the crucial moment of actually making a point she daringly snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. Do we feel let down? Heck, yes, we do.
The good thing about this book is that it once again illustrates that when old, boring, educated people go out into the world on a whim, they begin to see how everything they stand for is generally what is screwing the rest of the world up. The bad thing about this book is that it is just that- a story among many others that teaches an important life lesson that no one seems to care about.
CLAIRE MESSUD, published by Picador Shots