Hector and the Secrets of Love by François Lelord

Ah yes, Hector!

We met last year, I very much enjoyed his search for happiness, and so I was delighted to be invited to join him on another quest.

This time Hector was searching for the secrets of love.

He had noticed, in the course of his work as a psychiatrist, that so many of his patients came to him because they had problems of the heart.

And he was thinking about love on his own account too. Wondering about his relationship with girlfriend Clara. Whether they should be lovers or friends. Why Clara’s attention seemed to be elsewhere. What it was that he really wanted.

And maybe that’s why Hector was so receptive when a large pharmaceutical company asked him to track down a renegade scientist had discovered a scientific formula for true love.

 “My dear friend, you are now going to be part of my experiment, assuming that you have the courage. If you take part, you will be contributing not only to a major scientific advance, but to the beginning of a revolution in the history of humanity, which will transform our customs, culture, art and most probably our economy too. Imagine how different the world would be if we could harness the power of love!”

Yes, Hector set off on quite an adventure , in search of the intriguing and elusive Professor Cormorant.

He would travel, he would meet people, he would be experimented on … and along the way he did a lot of thinking and he made many notes about love.

He found positives, he found negatives, and he found that maybe things weren’t quite as simple as he had thought.

And the intentions of the pharmaceutical company weren’t as straightforward as they had led Hector to believe. That led to a dramatic conclusion …

Hector and the Secrets of Love is, of course, a contemporary fable. The style is simple, the chapters are short, but there is always an underlying intelligence, and there are many wise words about love.

I found Hector to be every bit as engaging as I remembered.

I’m afraid though that this story lost me in the middle. There was rather too much rushing about, too many characters, and too much plot.

Hector works best when he is given time and space to converse and contemplate.

My attention wandered, and I wished that Hector would consider more than sexual and romantic love. What about family and friends? But maybe that’s another book!

Fortunately though curiosity keep me turning the pages, and I was rewarded with a very clever conclusion that pulled everything together nicely.

I didn’t enjoy the search for love quite as much as the search for happiness. But I am looking forward to Hector’s next search – for time.

Now more time I could use!

Translated by Lorenza Garcia

Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord

 
Who is Hector?

Hector is a psychiatrist. A successful psychiatrist who enjoys his job and is very good at it. Because he likes people and is interested in them.

But Hector had a concern. Why were so many people who had everything – career success, money, family, friends – not happy. It really worried him.

And that was why, when one of his patients told him that he looked tired, he decided to take a holiday. To travel the world and uncover the answer to the question that caused him so much concern.

Where does happiness come from?

Now this may be sounding a little simplistic. A little child-like even. And in a way it is – Hector’s story is written in the style of a children’s book. But it works because that perfectly balances an underlying intelligence and a serious theme. And that particular combination turns this little book into a lovely fable for grown-ups.

And so to Hector’s journey.

He crisscrossed the globe, meeting an extraordinary array of characters, and getting into – and out of – some very strange situations. His professional skills and his genuine interest in people came in very useful.

Those characters and those experiences bring light and shade to the story, and they allow Hector to build up a list of twenty-five important lessons about happiness.

Hector is an engaging character and his is a lovely story. it is warm and insightful, and it cleverly avoids the pitfalls of silliness and sentimentality.

It’s the sort of story that I could probably find a hole in if I wanted to, but I don’t want to. It’s that kind of book!

And so to the final question. Does Hector get a happy ending? Well, that would be telling!

But there are sequels, and so the ending of this book is not goodbye for good.

I’m looking forward to meeting Hector again one of these days.

Translated by Lorenza Garcia