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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Hector and the
Secrets of Love

François Lelord

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To purchase Hector and the Secrets of Love

Title: Hector and the Secrets of Love
Author: François Lelord
Genre: Novel
Written: 2005 (Eng. 2011)
Length: 266 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Hector and the Secrets of Love - US
Hector and the Secrets of Love - UK
Hector and the Secrets of Love - Canada
Hector et les secrets de l'amour - Canada
Hector and the Secrets of Love - India
Hector et les secrets de l'amour - France
Hector und die Geheimnisse der Liebe - Deutschland
I segreti dell'amore - Italia
  • French title: Hector et les secrets de l'amour
  • Translated by Lorenza Garcia

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Our Assessment:

B : amiable-to-irritating fluff, teetering near the ridiculous

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Independent . 14/1/2011 Emma Hagestadt
Publishers Weekly . 6/6/2011 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "Like a cut-price Montaigne, Hector's faux naïve insights range from the comic-strip trite (...) to the eminently sensible" - Emma Hagestadt, The Independent

  • "A smarmy follow-up to Lelord’s first effort (.....) Lelord’s saccharine tale delineates a universal, palatable message about attachment and need, self-interest and freedom." - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Hector and the Secrets of Love continues François Lelord's fictional self-help guides featuring the psychiatrist Hector. In this installment, Hector is hired by his girlfriend Clara's employer, a huge pharmaceutical company, to find Professor Cormorant. The professor was doing some research for them but has suddenly disappeared, and they figure Hector might be able to find him.
       Cormorant and the pharmaceutical company he was working for were studying love (of the romantic/sexual sort) -- or rather, they were brewing and testing drugs that might be able to help folk deal with or fall or stay in love, a big-ticket item if they could get it right. So off Hector goes, setting out for South East Asia, on the trail of the professor.
       As a psychiatrist he of course is constantly dealing with his patients' love-issues -- and, of course, he has his own. In particular, he's not sure how in love he and Clara still are. All this constantly also goes through his mind as he has his adventures, as he observes and thinks about different variations and failures and successes of love.
       As is his wont, Hector takes notes and makes observations in trying to come to some conclusions about the subject. In the previous book he collected 'lessons' that he learnt; here he collects 'seedlings': very general observations such as:

Sometimes we argue most with the people we love the most.
       Cormorant remains half a step or so ahead of Hector -- occasionally letting him catch up before vanishing again -- as he remains on the run from the pharmaceutical company (and, eventually, other sinister parties). His love potions seem to be very effective: Hector certainly seems to fall under the spell after consuming what the professor leaves for him, taking up with a local woman who become his companion (though he still wonders about whether he has any future with Clara), and some pandas also seem to take to it (though the unintended consequences in that case are rather disturbing). Hector isn't sure who to side with -- Cormorant or the ones paying him to find him -- and the fact that he learns Clara is having an affair with the man who hired him complicates matters too.
       Half comic spy-thriller, with few people who are who they seem to be and everyone very eager to get their hands on Cormorant's research, and half love-swooning meditation on every amorous variation, Hector and the Secrets of Love is a very strange book. Ultimately its silliness is disarming -- it's so preposterous, in plot and presentation, that it's hard to be too annoyed at Lelord. However, the love-lessons are rather dubious, with few of the bonds very lasting or meaningful; worse yet is the idea of a chemically-based solution to the age-old love problems.
       Hector and the Secrets of Love isn't very insightful -- and, despite Hector's claims of some of love's universals, seems rather Gallic in its romantic philosophy and outlook -- and is ultimately more successful as an over-the-top comic international industrial secrets thriller (complete with exotic locales), of the fluffiest sort, than an exploration of love, but it does offer some odd entertainment value.

- M.A.Orthofer, 19 June 2011

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Hector and the Secrets of Love: Reviews: Other books by François Lelord under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of French literature

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About the Author:

       French psychiatrist François Lelord was born in 1953.

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© 2011-2021 the complete review

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