After years of studying France’s literary top brass – Baudelaire, Hugo, and Flaubert among others – it was a much different kind of storyteller who officially ushered me into expat life in Paris. Marc Levy, the most widely read French author in the world, is known for his narratives of impassioned love, searing loss and buoyant hope. As I initially struggled to navigate as an adopted Parisian and embrace an all-French lifestyle, his words proved as educational as they were edifying. His work, forever connected to this formative time in my life, was also a launchpad for discussion with French people I encountered – even my sister-in-law had his entire collection. His novels are ubiquitous because they’re so eminently relatable. And when you need a novel to be a source of comfort, you turn to Marc.
With thirteen #1 bestsellers in France, printed translations in 45 languages and several big-screen adaptations of his work (Just Like Heaven with Reese Witherspoon, for one) since he ventured into twelve years ago, Marc’s novels have only just become accessible to American readers. English translations are now available through Amazon and iTunes so you can dive right in from the beginning.
You came to writing as a profession late in life. What inspired this shift?
It wasn’t exactly a shift: when my son was between five and nine years old, I used to write a bedtime story for him every night. When he turned nine, he explained to me that TV was much better and more fun… but after he was asleep, I realized that I really missed writing the stories for him. So, as I could no longer write for the child he was, I thought that I would write for the man that he would one day become. That’s how I started to write my first novel, If Only It Were True. At the time, I would have never imagined that this story could be published. I’m aware that I was very lucky. Since then, I’ve been able to write full time
Why did you choose to leave France and make a home for yourself in the States? How has your adopted home informed your work?
I like living abroad and moved to London for several years before moving to New York. Being in contact with people of a different culture and who speak another language is always very enriching. It’s also a daily lesson in humility: nothing is ever a given. Every day you must forget your habits and reflexes, and adapt to the customs of the country where you live, even if they sometimes don’t make any sense.