Tag: Books: Books on France Reading Challenge 2013

Review: Bel-Ami

Posted 14 August, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

By: Guy de Maupassant
Format/Source: eBook

Maupassant’s second novel, Bel-Ami (1885), is the story of a ruthlessly ambitious young man (Georges Duroy, christened ‘Bel-Ami’ by his female admirers) making it to the top in fin-de-siecle Paris. It is a novel about money, sex, and power, set against the background of the politics of the French colonization of North Africa. It explores the dynamics of an urban society uncomfortably close to our own and is a devastating satire of the sleaziness of contemporary journalism.

I was busy with exams last week so I’ve sort of been on a roll reading short stories and novellas to pass the time (because I’m notoriously known for picking up really interesting books, thus derailing me from really studying =P). One of the free classics I found on Feedbooks was Bel-Ami so I decided to check it out. I was vaguely familiar about what the story was about, though throughout the story I did find myself getting confused between the recent adaptation with Uma Thurman and Robert Pattinson and the movie Cherie with Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert Friend for whatever reason. But anyways…

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

May contain some minor spoilers ahead!

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Review: Pere Goriot

Posted 29 July, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Pere Goriot
By: Honore de Balzac
Format/Source: eBook; my copy

By 1819, when Balzac’s novel opens, old Goriot is reduced to living in a mean forty-five franc room on the third floor, his fine cambric shirts and diamond pin long sold. Moon-faced, unhappy and unkempt, his only visitors are two glamorous Parisian women, ‘too pretty to be good’, who call infrequently and surreptitiously, leaving their carriages on the corner of the boulevard. They are his daughters, Goriot claims, but the only lodger generous enough to believe him is Eugene Rastignac, an impoverished law student, ambitious to plant a foot in the glittering society of the Faubourg Saint-Germain.

I read Cousin Bette (review) last month and didn’t enjoy it but it didn’t stop me from checking out Le Pere Goriot, which has also been sitting on my eReader for some time. I’ve heard good things about this book so I decided to read it sooner rather than later.

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

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Review: A Very Long Engagement

Posted 14 July, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

A Very Long Engagement
By: Sebastien Japrisot
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy

During the First World War five French soldiers, accused of a cowardly attempt to evade duty, are bundled into no-man’s land and certain death. Five bodies are later recovered, the families are notified that the men died in the line of duty and the whole, distasteful incident appears closed. After the war the fiancee of one of the men receives a letter which hints at what might have happened. Mathilde Donnay determines to discover the fate of her beloved amid the carnage of battle.

I must’ve mentioned the story on how I got my hands on this book a few times but suffice to say it took a while, lol. I loved the movie adaptation of this novel starring Audrey Tautou, Marion Cotillard and Gaspard Ulliel (loved it, by the way), it had many elements that I enjoyed in a novel/film: set during a war period somewhere in Europe, an engaging mystery, a scathing look at the hypocrisy and ridiculousness of bureaucracy, a love story overcoming many challenges. If I didn’t love the movie enough, it’s also one of my favourite novels.

I never wrote a review for this novel the first time around but decided to re-read it as part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in. Figured it was a good time to re-visit this novel ^_~

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Review: A Spear of Summer Grass + Giveaway

Posted 12 July, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 19 Comments

A Spear of Summer Grass
By: Deanna Raybourn
Format/Source: Paperback courtesy of the author as part of the Spear of Summer Grass Book Tour

Paris, 1923

The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even among Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather’s savanna manor house until gossip subsides.

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.

Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming—yet fleeting and often cheap.

Amidst the wonders—and dangers—of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for—and what she can no longer live without.

I first heard of this novel on GoodReads but I’ve never read any of the author’s works (though I recently found out that I added the first of her Julia Gray series on GoodReads in the past). I’m excited to take part in this blog tour hosted by France Book Tours and have the chance to read and review this novel. Be sure to check out the end of this post where you can enter to win a paperback copy of this novel (US/Canada only)!

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

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Review: Notre-Dame de Paris

Posted 7 July, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

Notre-Dame de Paris
By: Victor Hugo
Format/Source: eBook; my copy

At the center of Hugo’s classic novel are three extraordinary characters caught in a web of fatal obsession. The grotesque hunchback Quasimodo, bell-ringer of Notre-Dame, owes his life to the austere archdeacon, Claude Frollo, who in turn is bound by a hopeless passion to the gypsy dancer Esmeralda. She, meanwhile, is bewitched by a handsome, empty-headed officer, but by an unthinking act of kindness wins Quasimodo’s selfless devotion. Behind the central figures moves a pageant of picturesque characters, including the underworld of beggars and petty criminals whose assault on the cathedral is one of the most spectacular set-pieces of Romantic literature.

Victor Hugo is one of those authors I’ve heard of and had been meaning to check out but never really gotten around to until now. Funny enough, I never got around to watching the Disney movie when it came out despite my love of history (one of my early loves) and despite the fact that I owned this book on how to make friendship bracelets featuring Disney’s Esmeralda, lol. But anyways, I was curious about the original story so I decided to read it.

(The review comes with pictures! =D I think I had more fun adding the photos for this one, lol)

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

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