...it’s hilarious and it’s about the travails of people with more money than sense ... deWitt — who bills his delightful novel as a 'tragedy of manners' — owes more to Edith Wharton than Austen ... DeWitt’s characters behave with the precision and affectlessness of the people in Wes Anderson films ... DeWitt is aiming for farce and to say something about characters who cannot get out of their own way, and he achieves both with élan.
In his new novel, French Exit, deWitt serves up a modern story, a satire about an insouciant widow on a quest for refined self-immolation. The novel engages the tropes of the comedy of manners ... DeWitt’s surrealism is cheerful and matter-of-fact, making the novel feel as buoyantly insane as its characters ... DeWitt is a stealth absurdist, with a flair for dressing up rhyme as reason. His best dialogue is decorous, with a preposterous thrust ... Death suffuses French Exit, lending the book shape and perfume ... In its preoccupation with the macabre, the book feels insistent but polite, like a waiter at a Michelin-starred restaurant gently drawing one’s attention to the bill ... My quibble with French Exit is that it fails to commit in its last act: as true nullity beckons, the tone shifts, becoming more tender and pathetic.
...a sparkling dark comedy that channels both Noel Coward's wit and Wes Anderson's loopy sensibility. DeWitt's tone is breezy, droll, and blithely transgressive ... DeWitt ultimately works his spirited narrative around to some sober points about the lasting effects of insufficient love. But French Exit doesn't bear too much serious scrutiny. It works better on the comic level than the tragic.