Francois Lelord’s Hector

Hector and the Search for Lost Time — Francois Lelord

I initially thought this was a YA book in the vein of a Dr. Who. A cute little story about Hector and his search for …well, whatever Lost Time might mean. Turns out it wasn’t so much a YA book about Hector as Dr. Who, but more like Hector’s Introduction to Philosophy and the Concept of Time.

Francois Lelord has written something that is not just a YA book. It’s sophisticated enough in its philosophical concepts and presentation to allow an older audience to appreciate the writing. After all, time is the adversary regardless of our age.

As a child how many of us said, I can’t wait until I’m a grown up? And as adults how many of us have said, Man, I wish I was 12 (15, 18, 21, 25) again? Isn’t this just asking time to speed up for us, or go back for us? When we’re on vacation times goes too fast, when we’re at work it goes too slow.

Does time really move at different rates, or is a minute really a minute and is a second a constant?Can we slow time? Is it possible to not grow up or mature or age? Does it matter what we call it even? Is time different at the poles than at the equator, and can we be at both places at the same time to find out?

Our friendly psychiatrist takes us on a humorous little tour of the world and in the process shares his thoughts (Plus, the thoughts of some others he politely refrains from naming but gives us enough hints if we want to figure it out: What composer had 17 children?)

The way the book develops you can read it as a semi-strict philosophy text that explores concepts such as detachment, or you can read it as a simple novel. Most people will end up regarding it as a mixture of both, it doesn’t have enough heft for the strict academic philosophical discourse, As a story, it’s a little light, simply because Hector spends a lot of time musing on time.

This is Lelord’s aim, for it to be inclusive without being just on or the other. How many of us will go out of our way to get into a weighty philosophical volume? What we have is a genuine discussion wrapped in a book you can read on the bus.  Whether you choose to read it as entertainment or edification, you will walk away with ideas about what time is and what it means to you and for you.

I think this is why it works as a YA oriented book. It’s not overwhelming in such a way to force a reader to choose between one or the other. It presents enough material for the average reader to consider without eliminating the enjoyment of reading the story.

Lelord has a two other books, which came out before this one. Hector and the Secrets of Love came out in 2011 and Hector and the Search for Happiness came out in 2010.