Boston, My Blissful Winter
P.R.A. Publishing (2020)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (07/2021)
“Boston, My Blissful Winter,” is a collection of twelve short stories that take place during the cold, but captivating, winter months in Boston. Author Alain Briotett was the Consul General of France in Boston during the 1980s. While Briotett lived around the world during his career in foreign diplomacy, this novel focuses solely on Boston during the wintertime. The author uses his talent for storytelling to introduce us to this historic place through the protagonist, a Frenchman who is interning at a downtown bank. Readers witness the local characters through his eyes, as they interact with each other and react to the Boston winter climate. It is interesting to follow him as he connects with the locals who come from a variety of ethnic and social backgrounds. Some represent old wealth, and are well known, and then there are others that are young and still finding their way.
While these stories take place in the 1980s, I found that there is a sense of timelessness to them because they take place in an area where etiquette and social norms were a critical part of life and they could have easily been written at least 100 years earlier. This is especially apparent around Beacon Hill, because it had changed little and was still one of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods. The 1980s that took place here differed greatly from the 1980s I experienced in my teen years. I remember those days as being colorful and kind of ridiculous. It was a fun time for me, with much less emphasis on social decorum than what was required in this affluent area.
Briottet did a beautiful job of capturing my attention while I viewed the world through the thoughtful eyes of the protagonist. He made me feel like I was actually there, observing the sights and circumstances alongside the young banker, rather than just reading about it. The last time that I had personally been to Boston was for New Year’s Eve in 2005. I don’t recall feeling as enthralled about the beautiful winter while I was waiting outside at a train station! I was fortunate to be able to read “Boston, My Blissful Winter,” during 112 degree temperatures in the hot desert where I currently reside, and the brief reprieve was a wonderful distraction. I hope that Alain Briottet has more works like this in store for us about other places he has lived.