Francois’ novel is filled with tongue-in-cheek humour, profound statements, and bittersweetness:
Perhaps you worked it out before he did, because, in matters of love, psychiatrists aren’t necessarily more intelligent than anyone else. It was when Ying Li came out of the bathroom all happy and then suddenly became sad, when she understood that Hector had just understood. it was when they had dinner together and Hector sensed that she was intimidated. it was when she cried in his arms. It was each time she was moved when she was with him. Hector had fallen in love with Ying Li’s emotions, and that was a very profound feeling indeed.
Hector and the Search for Happiness has many moments like this one, where a deep emotion or abstract concept is described clearly in simple language.
Just then, the air hostess handed him the lady’s passport, and he saw in the photograph, which was less than a year old, a beautiful young woman who had the same eyes as the woman now looking at him, and he understood that the illness had also stolen her beauty. he remembered lesson no. 14: Happiness is to be loved for exactly who you are. And so he smiled at her, because men’s smiles must be something she greatly missed.
I can’t help but see a smudge of sexism mixed in with caring and love… what does that say about me? What attracted me to this scene is the idea of an illness that steals beauty, that the eyes often hold beauty the longest, and shine even when the more superficial aspects of appearance fade away.