Tag: Books: Books on France Reading Challenge 2013

Books on France Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

Posted 8 December, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Books on France Reading Challenge 2013
hosted @ Words and Peace

And here we are, more or less at the end of the year. I was initially going to post this at the end of the month, in case I read any more books that can be included in this but given the amount of books on my to-read pile as is, I think it’s safe to say that I am at the end of he Books of France Reading Challenge for 2013 🙂 This is the second reading challenge I’ve ever participated in, which was a lot of fun.

Just a recap, this challenge included any books set in France or contains any French themes; the full list can be found on the challenge main page hosted by words and peace.


  • LEVEL 1, “un peu” = 3 books (one per quarter for instance)
  • LEVEL 2, “beaucoup”= 6 books
  • LEVEL 3, “passionnément” = 12 books (one/month, for instance)
  • LEVEL 4, “à la folie”= 52 books (one/week, for instance)

So what did I read? 🙂

  • Denyse Beaulieu’s The Perfume Lover: A Personal History of Scent (ARC; set in France, focuses on the perfume industry there) — review
  • Alexandre Dumas’ La dame aux camelias (French author; set in France) — review
  • Edward Rutherfurd’s Paris: the novel (ARC; set in France) — review
  • Maurice Druon’s The Iron King, book 1 of the Accursed Kings (French author; set in France) — review
  • Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (French author; set in France) — review
  • Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo (French author; set in France) — review
  • Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame of Paris (French author; set in France) — review
  • Honore de Balzac’s Pere Goriot (French author; set in France) — review
  • Honore de Balzac’s Cousin Bette (French author; set in France) — review
  • Benjamin Constable’s Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa (ARC; partly set in France) — review
  • Paulita Kincer’s The Summer of France (set in France) — review
  • Deanna Raybourn’s A Spear of Summer Grass (partly set in France) — review
  • Alan Furst’s Mission to Paris (eGalley; set in France) — review
  • Laurie R. King’s The Bones of Paris (eGalley/ARC; set in France) — review
  • Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Watcher in the Shadows (set in France) — review
  • Jojo Moyes’ The Girl You Left Behind (eGalley; partly set in France) — review
  • Isabelle Lafleche’s J’adore Paris (set in Paris) — review
  • Guy de Maupassant’s Bel-Ami (French author; set in France) — review
  • Ayse Kulin’s Last Train to Istanbul (eGalley; partly set in France) — review
  • Christopher Angel’s The Mona Lisa Speaks (set in France) — review
  • M.K. Tod’s Unravelled (partly set in France) — review
  • Susan Conley’s Paris Was the Place (set in France) — preview post
  • P.S. Duffy’s The Cartographer of No-Man’s Land (party set in France) — review
  • Anna Gavalda’s Ensemble C’est Tout (Hunting and Gathering; French author; set in France) — commentary
  • Sebastien Japrisot’s A Very Long Engagement (French author; set in France) — review
  • Irene Nemirovsky’s All Our Worldly Goods (emigrated to France; set in France) — commentary

TOTAL = 26 books

Wow! And I actually got through all of the books I listed for this challenge!

It’s been pretty much the year of French literature for me as, thanks to this challenge, I’ve read quite a number of French classics ranging from Dumas to Flaubert. Did I have a particular favourite from the group? Well, there’s of course a few favourites here that I re-read (Japrisot’s A Very Long Engagement, Gavalda’s Ensemble C’est Tout) and some new titles I enjoyed, both classics (Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary) and by contemporary authors (Rutherfurd’s Paris, Lafleche’s J’adore Paris).

And that’s a wrap! 🙂

Have you read any of these titles? If so, what did you think of them? If you participated in this reading challenge, what was your favourite book read for it?

Edit: Just a heads up that I am hosting 3 reading challenges next year for anyone who’s interested in participating: Everything España, A Year in Re-Reading, and 2014 Shakespeare Reading Challenge 🙂

Review: The Cartographer of No Man’s Land

Posted 11 November, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Cartographer of No Man’s Land
By: P.S. Duffy
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of Penguin Canada via NetGalley

When his beloved brother-in-law goes missing at the Front in 1916, Angus defies his pacifist upbringing to join the war and find him. Assured a position as a cartographer in London, he arrives overseas and is instead sent directly into the trenches, where he experiences the visceral shock of battle.

Meanwhile, at home, his son Simon Peter must navigate escalating hostility in a fishing village torn by grief and a rising suspicion of anyone who expresses less than patriotic enthusiasm for the war. With the intimacy of The Song of Achilles and the epic scope of The Invisible Bridge, The Cartographer of No Man’s Land offers a lyrical and lasting portrayal of the First World War and the lives that were forever changed by it, both on the battlefield and at home.

It seemed timely that I read this novel given that Remembrance Day is this month. The premise of the novel interested me–I find it really fascinating that a lot of novels are emerging lately with a World War One setting–and to be honest I love the title of this novel. I was approved of a galley copy of this novel from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.

Contains a minor spoiler ahead!

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Commentary: Ensemble C’est Tout

Posted 10 November, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Hunting and Gathering (Ensemble C’est Tout)
By: Anna Gavalda
Format/Source: Trade paperback; my purchase

Gavalda explores the twists of fate that connect four people in Paris. Comprised of a starving artist, her shy, aristocratic neighbor, his obnoxious but talented roommate, and a neglected grandmother, this curious, damaged quartet may be hopeless apart, but together, they may just be able to face the world.

I read this novel for the first time a few years ago (you can read my review over here) after having watched the movie with Audrey Tautou and Guillaume Canet. It was a delightful movie and I was curious about the novel . It quickly became an all-time favourite of mine (in fact, I own two copies of this novel: the English edition under the title Hunting and Gathering, and the French edition whose cover is featured here). For the past year or two I had been meaning to re-visit the book again, maybe write down a few of my favourite quotes to put into my quotes journal, but I never found the time until I decided to participate in the Books in France reading challenge this year. And here we are 🙂

This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.

Contains spoilers ahead!

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Review: Unravelled + Giveaway

Posted 8 November, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 9 Comments

By: M.K. Tod
Format/Source: Paperback courtesy of the author as part of the Unravelled Book Tour

Two wars, two affairs, one marriage.

In October 1935, Edward Jamieson’s memories of war and a passionate love affair resurface when an invitation to a WWI memorial ceremony arrives. Though reluctant to visit the scenes of horror he has spent years trying to forget, Edward succumbs to the unlikely possibility of discovering what happened to Helene Noisette, the woman he once pledged to marry. Travelling through the French countryside with his wife Ann, Edward sees nothing but reminders of war. After a chance encounter with Helene at the dedication ceremony, Edward’s past puts his present life in jeopardy.

When WWII erupts a few years later, Edward is quickly caught up in the world of training espionage agents, while Ann counsels grieving women and copes with the daily threats facing those she loves. And once again, secrets and war threaten the bonds of marriage.

With events unfolding in Canada, France and England, Unravelled is a compelling novel of love, duty and sacrifice set amongst the turmoil of two world wars.

When it comes to historical fiction, I’m always drawn towards novels seemingly set in and around the Second World War. That’s what caught my attention when I first read the premise of this novel. Thank you to France Book Tours for letting me take part in the book tour for this novel. I am also hosting a giveaway at the end of this review for a chance to win an eBook copy of this novel (open internationally!). Contains some spoilers ahead!

This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.

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Book Blog Tour: Paris Was the Place

Posted 6 November, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 3 Comments

Paris Was the Place
By: Susan Conley
Format/Source: Paperback courtesy of the author as part of Paris Was the Place Book Tour

When Willie Pears begins teaching at a center for immigrant girls in Paris all hoping for French asylum, the lines between teaching and mothering quickly begin to blur. Willie has fled to Paris to create a new family, and she soon falls for Macon, a passionate French lawyer. Gita, a young girl at the detention center, becomes determined to escape her circumstances, no matter the cost. And just as Willie is faced with a decision that could have dire consequences for Macon and the future of the center, her brother is taken with a serious, as-yet-unnamed illness.

This book was released in hardback on August 6th. I read this book as part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in. The following is a small preview of the novel:

Chapter 1
Family history: a shared story

I try taking Boulevard de Strasbourg away from the crowds at the St. Denis metro stop to find the girls. This isn’t one of those gilded Paris streets heralding the end of a war or the launch of a new haute couture line. The sky’s already turned gray again, but it’s flanged lilac in places. The early dusk settles around the Beauty for You hair salon and a small pyramid of green-and-white shampoo bottles in the pharmacie window. I’m almost lost but not entirely, searching for an asylum centre full of girls on Rue de Metz. Two mothers in saris pick over veggies while their toddlers jump in place on the sidewalk holding hands. A tabac sign yells LOTTERY FRANCE!

The sequencing of the neighbourhoods here baffles me–arranged like the curvature of some terrestrial snail. I’m in the tenth arrondissement, anchored by two of Paris’s great train stations, where the alleyways weave into mapless places. I’m not embarrassed to carry my Michelin. But it’s colder here at four o’clock in January than I ever thought it could be, and three of my fingers have gone numb.

Readers of contemporary fiction, novels set in France and novels that tackle themes of immigration and family may be interested in checking this novel out. You can pick up a copy of the novel through Amazon.com

Susan Conley is a writer and teacher. Her memoir, The Foremost Good Fortune (Knopf 2011), chronicles her family’s experiences in modern China as well as her journey through breast cancer. The Oprah Magazine listed it as a Top Ten Pick, Slate Magazine chose it as “Book of the Week,” and The Washington Post called it “a beautiful book about China and cancer and how to be an authentic, courageous human being.” Excerpts from the memoir have been published in The New York Times Magazine and The Daily Beast.

Susan’s writing has also appeared in The Paris Review, The Harvard Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Gettysburg Review, The North American Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. A native of Maine, she earned her B.A. from Middlebury College and her M.F.A. in creative writing from San Diego State University. After teaching poetry and literature at Emerson College in Boston, Susan returned to Portland, where she cofounded and served as executive director of The Telling Room, a nonprofit creative writing center. She currently teaches at The Telling Room and at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Program.

official website / @ Facebook / @ Twitter

Many thanks to France Book Tours for hosting this book and for letting me read this book as part of the tour.