French Exit by Patrick DeWitt review – eccentric pleasures

A dysfunctional mother-son duo flee to Paris in a dazzling tragicomedy from the author of The Sisters Brothers

Patrick deWitt likes to send his characters on quests: a contract killing in his picaresque gold-rush western The Sisters Brothers, shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker prize and now adapted as a film; a coming-of-age ramble around a folkloric 19th-century Europe in 2015’s Undermajordomo Minor. His fourth novel propels a pampered, dysfunctional mother-and-son duo from New York to Paris, there to burn through the dregs of their considerable fortune.

“My plan was to die before the money ran out,” says 65-year-old Frances, whose beauty and eccentricity have enthralled Manhattan for decades – most notably when she found her husband dead in bed and went skiing rather than calling an ambulance. “But I kept and keep not dying, and here I am.” A friend has a vacant Paris apartment; so off ...