Saturday, September 06, 2014


Mood Indigo, Boris Vian, Gallimand, Paris, 1947 (translated from the French by Stanely Chapman, published by Rapp & Carroll Ltd, London, 1967), 214 pp

Somewhere on the interwebs I heard about this book and that it had been made into a movie to be released in July. I watched a trailer and was completely seduced. It stars Audrey Tatou, whom I adore.

Boris Vian was a multi-talented French fellow. He wrote novels, poetry, and plays. He played jazz, acted, and invented stuff. He was friends with Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvoir, and Jean Paul Sartre. He translated two of Raymond Chandler's novels into French.

He published Mood Indigo in 1947, the year I was born. Its title in French was L'Ecume des Jours which literally translated means The Foam of Days, but its first translator called it Froth on the Daydream. As with any deeply imaginative work, all three titles fit. When Michel Gondry made his film adaptation in 2013 (there have been a French movie in 1968 and a Japanese film in 2001) the title was changed to "Mood Indigo" after a song by Duke Ellington featured in the movie. 

Of course, being French, it is a love story and is full of quirky characters, feverish creativity, puns, and melancholy. A mash up of sci fi and magical realism permeates the book and is fully captured in the film.

I started the book, got about 100 pages in, and then saw the movie. I don't usually do that but it worked well in this case. The end of the story is so different from the beginning and I totally did not see it coming. Somehow watching this transformation on a big screen with the colors, the music, the actors, made the rest of the book even more amazing to me.

If you enjoy the French romantic comedy/tragedy mode, I recommend both the book and the movie and assure you it doesn't matter which you consume first.

(Mood Indigo is available in paperback and eBook by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)


  1. Well, it seems that I should see the film having already read (and reviewed) the book a while ago. Obviously it's worthwhile. I can well imagine Audrey Tatou in it... and I usually like French films. Unlike those made in Hollywood, they don't give me the feeling that producer, director, scriptwriter consider cinema goes either vulgar or hopelessly romantic imbeciles without taste.

    1. Oh no, no Hollywood influence at all. It really brought the book to life for me despite the change in the ending.